Nepal’s capital was crippled by fuel shortages on Sunday as a general strike called by ethnic minorities demanding more rights prevented new fuel shipments from reaching the city.
Katmandu’s buses, vans and trucks remained parked on the side of the road because drivers were unable to buy fuel. Long lines with hundreds of vehicles formed at service stations as people looked for any remaining stock.
The state-owned Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) has been unable to transport fuel to Katmandu since last week because of a general strike called by ethnic rights groups in southern Nepal.
“We have almost run out of fuel in our storage tanks in Katmandu, and we have not been able to get new stock,” Digambar Jha, the NOC chief, told The Associated Press.
Truck drivers have been refusing to drive on highways in southern Nepal out of fear that strike organisers would attack them for defying the strike.
“We have assured the drivers we will provide full security and police escort, but they are still refusing to drive,” Jha said. “They are driving vehicles loaded with flammable liquid and they don’t want to take any risk.”
Several ethnic rights groups in southern Nepal called the strike last week to demand greater autonomy, more seats in the national legislature, and a guaranteed number of representatives in the administration.
NOC has a monopoly on the import and distribution of all oil products in Nepal. The products are imported from India, and they enter Nepal by road at border crossings in the south. (AP)
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