Yet another crisis hits Nepal with an economic blockade

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Public transport vehicles queue for petrol in front of Singha Durbar, the administrative headquarter of the country.

Nepal’s political instability is once again dragging the state into a serious political and economic crisis. After 65 long years of complex political transition that encompassed a decade long civil war and three major people’s movements (‘janaandolans’), the country finally promulgated its new constitution on September 20, 2015.
But Madhesi parties, who felt that their issues were not properly addressed in the new constitution, backed out from the constitution writing process on September 6, 2015 and engaged instead in protests in the southern belt of the country. On September 22, 2015, the Constitutional Assembly ratified the constitutional document with 90% signatories from all party representatives except the Madhesi parties.

On August 24, 2015, agitating protestors killed 7 police men in Kailali. The Madhesh protests continued aggressively and almost 40 people were killed including 10 police men by August24-September 21, 2015. Saptari Udaypur, Kailali and Parsa were amongst the worst-hit districts and the state imposed curfews to control the situation.
The political parties and the government failed to address the people’s movement in the Terai region whereby polarization in the social fabric of the nation is on the rise.

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Sorry friends! No petrol !

Expressing dissatisfaction with some provisions of the new constitution. Madhesi parties have also blocked the East West highway and feeder roads leading to India, worsening the fuel crisis in Kathmandu after an unannounced economic blockade was imposed on the border by Indian officials beginning September 25, 2015. Protesters have blocked the main border crossings into Nepal from India, choking off a key supply route through which the landlocked country fulfills much of its requirements. This has affected not only everyday life in the country but has also hurt domestic and international trade. In Kathmandu, the government has begun rationing petroleum products to tackle the ongoing fuel crisis. Beginning, 21 September 2015 the state further restricted distribution due to the very limited supplies and private vehicles were barred from purchasing fuel for a short duration of time.
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Part of a 3 km long queue for fuel at a gas station that has been shut for days. 

Almost every private petrol station in Kathmandu has shut down due to absence of fuel. The queue for petroleum is almost more than half a kilometer outside government owned petrol stations. Nepal Oil Corporation is reeling under the depleting stock. The NOC has further been unable to provide fuel for air-travel and domestic and international flights have considerably decreased.

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If you have a bicycle no need to stay in long lines for just 3 liters of petrol as designated by the government. 

Life in Kathmandu is worsening with the shortage of petroleum fuel and the vehicular movement inside the valley has become unpredictable, severely crippling daily routines.  Public vehicles on roads have almost halved causing extreme overcrowding. Violating traffic rules, transport entrepreneurs have begun ferrying people even on bus rooftops. Many of those residing in Kathmandu come from the southern belt, where they look to returning for the holidays; however, violent unrest in the plains have put a backseat to such plans.

 

 

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People travel crammed and also on bus roofs after the severe shortage of fuel. 

There have been no significant efforts seen from the government and the political side to end this blockade, rather they are wasting energy into influencing the mass through their ultra nationalist public speeches.

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 Helpless state and public

The general public has taken to social media to vent anger at the southern neighbor’s unnecessary political interference.

 

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The positive side, people explored business opportunity in petrol queue.

In recent days, the public has taken to carpooling and sharing resources as fuel becomes more expensive by the minute. We can only hope that political leaders address legitimate demands from the plains and while also forwarding democratic and progressive reforms.

Nishant Khanal

Nishant is Research Intern at Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation.

One thought on “Yet another crisis hits Nepal with an economic blockade

  • October 6, 2015 at 8:55 pm
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    The situation is going worst day by day. The festival which is said to account more than 40% sales in the entire year will be surely going down. The crisis of petroleum is one part and the painful is regarding the gas!

    Nicely written and visualization of the situation Nishant ! Great going (Y)

    Reply

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