A shortage of fuel in Nepal prompted by strikes and protests in the south forced the shutdown of much of the capital’s public transportation system on Wednesday, officials said.
More than 80 per cent of Katmandu’s public buses, vans and trucks remained parked because authorities were unable to buy diesel and gasoline to run them, said Sharad Sitaula of the Nepal Transport Entrepreneurs Association.
“We are facing a major crisis in our business. We have no income and are unable to pay our drivers and staff. If this continues, many of us will have to shut down our business,” Sitaula said.
Hundreds of vehicles, meanwhile, lined up outside a handful of service stations selling rationed fuel in Katmandu, and workers dependent on public transport were forced to walk or stay at home.
“I have waited for hours for a bus to get to work, but now I have to return home and I won’t be paid for the day,” said housekeeper Srijana Lama.
The state-run Nepal Oil Corp, which has the monopoly to import and distribute all oil products, blamed the fuel shortage on troubles in southern Nepal. All oil products are imported from India, and they enter Nepal by road at border crossings in the south.
In recent days, ethnic groups in the south have been holding protests and strikes to demand greater autonomy, more seats in the national legislature, and a guaranteed number of representatives in the administration. Many southerners say their region has been neglected in favor of the more populated north.
Different southern ethnic groups joined forces and ordered an indefinite general strike beginning Wednesday.
Nepal Oil Corp chief Digambar Jha said drivers were too afraid to drive fuel tankers in the south because of the troubles.
“The strikes and protests in south Nepal have stopped us from transporting fuel to Katmandu and the cities in the north,” Jha said. (AP)
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