Friday, February 1, 2008

Just a few observations on getting around in Nepal and how not to run a government.

Getting around in Nepal and how not to run a government.

A week ago all of Kathmandu and most of the major cities of Nepal were completely shut down by a general strike due to the news that the government fuel monopoly was going to raise the price of cooking gas (there is only one kind), diesel and kerosene by approximately 20%. It was a protest that shutdown all of the roads and almost every business with rows of burning tires blocking all of the major intersections and groups of young (somewhat idiotic) people accosting drivers who "violated the strike". Only bicycles and pedestrians were allowed on the streets.

The news of the increases did not come about as a warning of a possible increase but as news of a decision that the government had made without telling anyone. A similar announcement had taken place three weeks prior when the previously scheduled power outages, known as "load shedding" that the country was experiencing want from four hours a week in two, two hour shift two days a week to thirty six hours a week in two three hour shift six days a week! Add to this that the cost of all fuels, cooking and motor have doubled in the last two years and you can see why Nepal is experiencing such inflation.

Today when we opened the newspapers we were greeted with headlines that the whole country is preparing to grind to a halt. At least the people running the transport industries in the country are nice enough to give us a warning, unlike the government.

Good thing I'm walking...


Transporters call indefinite strike

Himalayan News Service
Kathmandu, January 31:

Demanding regular supply of fuel and maintaining its quality, the transport entrepreneurs today announced an indefinite transport strike in the Valley beginning February 3.
“The strike would be extended throughout the nation in a few days if the government remained indifferent to our demands,” said Rajan Rokka, convener of the Bagmati Zonal Committee of the Federation of Nepali National Transport Entrepreneurs while addressing the press conference organised to make its protest programmes public.
“There was no point of plying only a handful of vehicles as most of the vehicles are off the roads,” Rokka said.
The chakka jam is expected to have serious consequences in the near future. It would also greatly affect the daily life of the people of the valley who have been facing difficulty due to the shortage of cooking gas, kerosene, petrol and public transportation.
Rokka claimed that only 25 per cent of the public vehicles were plying on the roads these days due to shortage of diesel. “Those plying vehicles need to struggle whole night to get a little amount of fuel,” he said.
The entrepreneurs have put forth seven-point demands to the government claiming that there exists artificial shortage of fuel in the market. They have also demanded that the quality of petrol, diesel, kerosene and cooking gas should be maintained using scientific methods.
“Load-shedding has affected electric vehicles that run with the help of recharged batteries,” stated the release issued by the FNNTE. The entrepreneurs have also demanded that the fares be adjusted as per the increment in the price of fuel.
Meanwhile, executive director of Nepal Oil Corporation Digambar Jha told this daily today that the NOC has paid Rs 1 billion to Indian Oil Corporation after the amount was released by the Finance Ministry. Jha claimed that the fuel supply would become regular from Saturday.
Secretary at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies Purushottam Ojha said the Department of Commerce is doing its best with available resources to check fuel adulteration. “The DoC squad has taken action against those indulging in adulteration,” he claimed.
Ojha opined that adulteration would be checked effectively if diesel and kerosene cost the same. He said there should be an open market policy for the transaction of fuel.

No comments: