Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) said on Tuesday that it had increased gasoline deliveries by over 50 percent after long queues started forming in front of petrol pumps in the Kathmandu Valley.
Most private gas stations were closed on Monday as no fuel deliveries were made because it was a public holiday. As a result, frantic motorists besieged fuel stations operated by the Nepal Army, Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and Sajha.
Sushil Bhattarai, acting deputy managing director of NOC, said they had boosted deliveries of petrol and diesel to 650 kilolitres each. The usual size of the delivery is 400 kilolitres of petrol and 550 kilolitres of diesel.
According to Bhattarai, the state-owned oil monopoly did not deliver gasoline on Saturday and Monday as they were public holidays.
Despite the NOC’s claim of boosting deliveries, a majority of petrol pumps had hung out ‘No Petrol’ signs. NOC officials said that the Thankot depot had issued fuel late in the afternoon.
Sudden gasoline shortages have become a regular feature in Kathmandu after long weekends and extended official holidays as NOC shuts down and petrol pumps run out of stock. Petrol pumps said that a poor distribution mechanism and inadequate storage facilities had been creating such problems frequently.
Lilendra Prasad Pradhan, president of the Nepal Petroleum Dealers Association, said that a poor distribution mechanism, particularly during public holidays, often lead to shortages and a rush on the petrol pumps.
“This week, NOC did not distribute fuel for three consecutive days.” There were two public holidays in India on Saturday and Sunday followed by a holiday in Nepal on Constitution Day on Monday.
Pradhan said that NOC had not been able to manage distribution when public holidays occur in a row, leading to fuel shortages and panic buying which further aggravates the situation.
The country suffered an acute fuel shortage for over six months last year due to a trade blockade by India. Shortages have been occurring intermittently since then. Last month, there were shortages lasting four consecutive days. NOC blamed them on inadequate supplies from the Indian Oil Corporation depot in Raxaul.
Pradhan said they had not been receiving adequate fuel deliveries even currently. “We have been told that supplies from the Raxaul refinery have dropped by 20-30 percent,” he said. NOC officials, however, refuted the claim.
Source: The Kathmandu Post