Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tankers disrupt fuel supply

Due to the deliberate disruption in supply of petroleum products by petroleum tanker operators – demanding amendment in the Petroleum Products Transportation Bylaw – consumers have started queuing at petrol pumps across Kathmandu Valley.
Though halting supply of essential products like petroleum products is a serious crime, the tanker operators have been disrupting the supply, as a result of the disruption, the demand for petroleum products has increased substantially also due to growing fear of shortage. "The demand has not subsided even though Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) has doubled the quantity of petrol and diesel that it supplies regularly in the market," according to the government fuel monopoly.
"Following the disruption, NOC has almost doubled the supply of petrol in the market to 800 kilolitres (kl) per day against normal demand of 450 kl since Sunday," the corporation said adding that the NOC has also increased supply of diesel.
Putting forth the demand to amend the Petroleum Products Transportation Bylaw, agitating tanker operators – close to the General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions (GEFONT) – has completely halted supply of petroleum products from Friday. They have also not loaded fuel from Indian oil refineries. Threatening to halt the supply completely from Monday, the tanker operators have submitted a 15-point demand to the government.
The new bylaw requires operators to maintain a minimum fleet size of five tankers, and pay fine to NOC, if the volume of petroleum products is less than what is prescribed in the bylaw. Before the bylaw came into effect, operators with a single tanker were also allowed to supply petroleum products.
Likewise, the bylaw also states the tanker operator has to pay fine if their ‘technical loss’ is more than 30 liters.
According to the National Consumers Forum, tankers have been reporting technical loss of around 235 liters per tanker in recent years. Officials of the forum say that tanker operators have been stealing fuel from tankers and selling them in the market. “Most of the tanker drivers, who have become tanker operators themselves, have been stealing and selling petroleum products,” the forum claimed, asking the government to take stern action against them.
President of Nepal Petroleum Transporters Federation (NPTF) Khageswor Bohara however said that the supply disruption attempt was being made by only those tanker operators close to GEFONT. "Out of almost 1,800 petroleum tankers operating in the country, some 800 tankers are individually owned and they are staging a protest citing that they cannot increase their fleet of tankers as required by the amended bylaw,” he said, requesting the the tanker operators not to interrupt regular supply of petroleum products. He also urged agitating tanker operators to resolve the issue through dialogue with the government.
Had the NOC consulted tanker operators while making amendments in the bylaw, he said, “the problem would not have arisen."

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