After a minor scuffle and with the help of security personnel this afternoon some 45 tankers carrying petroleum products set out from the Thankot depot of Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) for Kathmandu, according to NOC. "Though it is less than the normal daily supply of 65 tankers, at least this will help smoothen the supply from tomorrow," it added. Yesterday, only 28 tankers brought the petroleum products.
Six protesting tanker owners were also arrested under the Essential Services Act after they tried to stop the tankers. The Home Ministry has directed the Chief District Officers to provide security to the tankers.
Meanwhile, consumer rights groups supported the government's move to invoke the Essential Services Act to bring in the petroleum products.
Nepal Consumers' Forum, National Consumers' Forum and Consumers' Rights Protection Forum (CRPF) have urged the government to strictly implement the Essential Goods Act and Essential Services Act to end all forms of blackmarketing and syndicate system in the essential goods sector.
Kathmandu valley, along with other parts of the country, is facing an acute shortage of petrol, diesel and kerosene after the Federation of Nepal Petrol Tanker Entrepreneurs (FNPTE) stopped transporting petroleum products from Sunday. Nepal Petroleum Dealers' Association (NPDA) and Tankers' Drivers Association are supporting the FNPTE.
The Ministry of Commerce and Supplies requested the Home Ministry to invoke the Act to ensure the supply of petroleum products after FNPTE stopped ferrying petro-products.
"The government has taken the right decision," consumer rights activist Ram Chandra Simkhada said adding that they support the move as it is giving relief to the consumers.
Consumer rights groups are against the protesting parties and have urged the government to enforce ESA strictly. "Had the government not invoked ESA, we would have seized the tankers for the benefit of the people," Nepal Consumers' Forum said.
CRPF general secretary Jyoti Baniya said that the strike was a drama to promote carteling and increase commission. "The issue of phasing out 20 years old tankers is not the only reason," he said adding that there was more to what met the eye.
Of the privately-owned 1,200 tankers, at least 200 are more than 20 years old while some are even 30 years old.