Monday, October 5, 2015

Nepal's Fuel Crisis

On September 20th, Nepal officially promulgated their new constitution, more than 7 years in the making. They have missed deadline after deadline, but the country really did make remarkable progress. Before being officially declared, however, marginalized groups had been protesting for inclusion in the constitution. Throughout September, we had numerous "bandhs", or strikes, mostly transportation strikes, which complete shut down movement everywhere.

Once the constitution came out, these groups were still upset with the result - parts of the country have been immobile for over 60 days. On top of that, India said they were unsatisfied with not being consulted on the constitution (they are worried the strikes on the border will spill into their states), and declared an unofficial blockage on goods and supplies entering Nepal. Being a landlocked country, that means virtually everything, from petrol, to apples and everything in between. We're on an odd/even day license plate restriction, though it's obvious people are running out of fuel: the roads are clear, walkers and bicyclists are everywhere, and restaurants remain shuttered due to lack of cooking gas. And now that India has lifted the "unofficial blockade", Nepali groups are still on strike, preventing vehicles from entering the country

The small sign reads "petrol chaina", meaning "no petrol"
Lines of vehicles wait in line for petrol. They camp there overnight, and might be there days.
Lines of vehicles wait for fuel.
The only traffic these days is from the roads being covered in parked vehicles waiting for fuel.

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