The Ministry of Commerce and Supplies has made arrangements to ferry in petroleum products from tomorrow.
"We have requested the Home Ministry to invoke the Essential Services Act-2014 to bring in petroleum products as it is a very sensitive issue," Digamber Jha managing director of Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) said adding that strikes in import, transportation and distribution of petroelum products should be banned.
The Federation of Nepal Petrol Tanker Entrepreneurs (FNPTE) has unilaterally stopped ferrying petroleum products from Sunday. "They have not informed NOC, which is unethical," Jha added. The tanker owners have been protesting NOC's request to replace their old tankers though earlier they had agreed to it.
Currently, some 1,200 private tankers ferry pertroleum products. Some of them are 30 years old, but the owners refuse to phase them out. There are also over 200 tankers that are more than 20 years old. Old and decrepit tankers are prone to leakage and accident. "There is no insurance coverage for such ancient vehicles that each carry 12,000 litres petrol worth Rs 1.5 million," said Jha.
NOC had proposed their phase-wise replacement over 25 years in the first phase and so on. However, some tanker-owners for their own vested interests have taken hostage the country's essential supply system. The association of tanker owners itself is divided over the matter.
"In india, tankers older than 15 years are not allowed to ferry petroleum products," he said adding that NOC is also planning addition measures for the smooth supply of petroleum products. The state oil monopoly that is responsible for supply of petroleum products will add 50 tankers as a long-term solution to ferrying problem as the private sector is not cooperating. "It will make us self-reliant and enable us to wriggle out of the grasp of the tanker syndicate," Jha added.
NOC has also planned to help Nepal Police and Armed Police Force (APF) to buy 25 oil tankers each so that the total number of fallback tankers stands at 100 and lessens the dependence on private tankers. Police and APF will also be encouraged to open new petrol pumps also, according to the supplies ministry.
NOC depots will also be provided better security and security personnel will also be deployed for the safety of the drivers and their helpers ferrying petroleum products.