A Couple of Strikes and a Fuel Crisis

Double Trouble: Nepal Oil Corporation was already having trouble maintaining normal fuel supply in Kathmandu valley when the Petroleum dealers's Association called a strike, driving up fuel scarcity. Here, a queue for supply earlier today outside Singha Durbar. All Photos: Kashish Das Shrestha.

Double Trouble: Nepal Oil Corporation was already having trouble maintaining normal fuel supply in Kathmandu valley when the Petroleum dealers’s Association called a strike on Sunday, driving up fuel scarcity. Today the fuel transporters also went on a strike of their own. Here, a snaking queue for supply earlier today outside Singha Durbar. All Photos: Kashish Das Shrestha.

Petrol and Diesel scarcity continued in Kathmandu today. While the Nepal Petroleum Dealers’ National Association continue their strike which i wrote about here yesterday, the petroleum transporters have started a strike of their own too. As the Himalayan Times reported: 

“Petroleum crisis in Kathmandu valley has increased as petroleum transporters are protesting against the killing of their friend Amajad Devan in Barauni, India on Friday.

Agitating transporters have been demanding to declare Amajad a martyr and provide Rs 2.5 million compensation to his family.”

As the Himalayan Times report notes, only “public sector” petrol pumps were have been in operation since Sunday, and received Nepal Oil Corporation’s fuel delivery.

“Thankot depot provided 12,000 litres of petrol to pumps operated by Nepal Army and Armed Police followed by Nepal Police (8,000 litres), National Trading (6,000 litres) and Sajha (9,000 litres) on Monday.” the Times report adds. 

Photos posted here are of the scenes from those waiting to get petrol and diesel from the Army operated Ripumardini Petrol Station in Bhadrakali. (Photos from the Nepal Police operated petrol station are posted here). These photos were taken around 11AM today.

On the left, vehicles park on the sidewalk and queue for fuel. On the right, vehicles fill up the wide boulevard of a street the way it does with or without a fuel crisis.

On the left, vehicles park on the sidewalk and queue for fuel. On the right, vehicles fill up the wide boulevard of a street the way it does with or without a fuel crisis.

This entrepreneur had sold 5 cartons of bottled water by 11AM. The weather has been incredibly warm the two days.

This entrepreneur had sold 5 cartons of bottled water to drivers by 11AM. The weather has been incredibly warm the two days. There are no public restrooms in the area.

By 11AM this mother-son duo's mobile fruit shop were selling the last of their Papaya stock.

By 11AM this mother-son duo’s mobile fruit shop were selling the last of their Papaya stock.

This jeep with "intercooler turbo" baked in the sun waiting for diesel. Not so cool now.

This jeep with “intercooler turbo” baked in the sun waiting for diesel. Not so cool now.

Gayatri Hydro Power company came prepared to stock up on fossil fule. Nepal's energy security is hinged on hydropower. But the electricity crisis due to delayed work in the hydropower sector is one of the reasons Kathmandu experiences intense and chronic fuel shortages as the demand for diesel use in power generators spikes up. Nepal produces about 500MW of electricity through privately operated diesel generators. Of this, Kathmandu's share is about 80-100MW.

Gayatri Hydro Power company came prepared to stock up on fossil fule. Nepal’s energy security is hinged on hydropower. But the electricity crisis due to delayed work in the hydropower sector is one of the reasons Kathmandu experiences intense and chronic fuel shortages as the demand for diesel use in power generators spikes up. Nepal produces about 500MW of electricity through privately operated diesel generators. Of this, Kathmandu’s share is about 80-100MW.

Drivers spend hours waiting in line, plenty of reading time.

Drivers spend hours waiting in line, plenty of reading time.

On the left, vehicles waiting for petrol and diesel. On the right, an electric tuk-tuk ferrying passengers stuck in traffic jam because of the massive lines outside the petrol station.

On the left, vehicles waiting for petrol and diesel. On the right, an electric tuk-tuk ferrying passengers stuck in traffic jam because of the massive lines outside the petrol station.

It was a busy morning for this nuts and dried beans seller.

It was a busy morning for this nuts and dried beans seller.

This young man did brisk business selling pani-puri to those in queue.

This young man did brisk business selling pani-puri to those in queue.

DHL delivers on diesel. Institutions and businesses need to start working on switching to electric vehicles with solar charging stations.

DHL delivers on diesel. Institutions and businesses need to start working on switching to electric vehicles with solar charging stations.

Carrying them empty to the pump is the easy part. I am not sure how he took them back filled though.

Carrying them empty to the pump is the easy part. I am not sure how he took them back filled though.

A driver catches a nap while waiting. Sometimes vehicles wait for hours in the same spot.

A driver catches a nap while waiting. Sometimes vehicles wait for hours in the same spot.

The waiting game. If the petrol pump's supplies run out before their turn, they will just have to come back and wait another day.

The waiting game. If the petrol pump’s supplies run out before their turn, they will just have to come back and wait another day.

Not that there is a shortage of strikes in Nepal right now (education trike affecting more than 7 millions students), a political General Strike hits Kathmandu tomorrow morning. This mean all vehicle movements will be restricted between 6AM to 5PM. As off now vehicles (almost all of which run on diesel) owned by Diplomatic missions have been given permission to operate, but that too could change if the Strike gets violent in the morning.

To search for a positive in this forced Strike that will disrupt millions of lives (something I personally disagree with), keeping hundreds of thousands of vehicles off the streets all day in a city suffering from dangerous levels of air pollution will at least do the city and its inhabitants good. That effect, however, desperately needs to come from a better plan. Increasing the country’s dependency on petroleum, appeasing bully suppliers, increasing billions in subsidies, and hoping for smooth supplies in the future, are not it.

Yesterday, I argued why Kathmandu must  reduce its use of diesel generators to produce 80-100MW of electricity and how it could do it. You can read that post, also published in Republica national daily, here. As for tomorrow, like most days, I plan to commute on my bicycle.

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