Government transports fuel during curfew in shortage-hit Kathmandu

Business Materials 21 February 2008 09:03 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - The Nepalese government transported 132 oil tanker trucks through southern Nepal to supply shortage-hit Kathmandu as a crippling general strike in southern Nepal entered its ninth day, media reports said Thursday.

The tankers, carrying 1,870 kilolitres of petroleum products, moved the fuel during an overnight curfew to its main supply depot in Amlekhgunj, about 70 kilometres south of the Nepalese capital Kathmandu, from the Indian border, the English language daily Kathmandu Post reported.

"Armed police and police personnel drove the tankers from Indian border town of Raxaul," the newspaper quoted a government official as saying. "The total imports on Wednesday were close to daily normal levels."

Half of the total imports were shipped to Kathmandu, which is reeling from an acute fuel shortage due to the breakdown of the supply system caused by an indefinite general strike in southern Nepal.

"We now have petrol and diesel reserve for two days and hope more fuel can be supplied to the Kathmandu Valley," Iccha Bikram Thapa, deputy managing director at the state-owned Nepal Oil corporation, said.

"We have started distribution of petrol, diesel and kerosene from Wednesday after a break of two days," Thapa said.

The shipments of fuel were the first in more than a week and eased shortages somewhat.

On Thursday, vehicles waited in long queues across the Nepalese capital in anticipation of receiving petrol and diesel.

The shortages have virtually paralysed public and private transport in Kathmandu, prompting schools to shut down.

Police estimate only a third of total vehicles in the Nepalese capital were operating.

The fuel crisis was sparked by an indefinite general strike called by the ethnic United Democratic Madhesi Front.