Worries over the multiple roadblocks along the Thimphu -Phuentsholing highway had caused panic among people rushing to the fuel stations in Thimphu.
Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA) has issued an advisory asking people not to panic and worry about shortage of fuel. The ministry had to even tell petrol pumps to not provide fuel in jerry cans.
Lyonpo Lekey Dorji, MoEA, said, “They (fuel stations) are required to maintain full storage to ensure that they do not run out of supplies. If they do run out of supplies, MoEA supplies from its reserve depots. The ministry also plans to increase the capacity of reserve depots from the current 1000 kilolitres (KL) (100,000 litres) to 2000KL (200,000 litres).”
The reserve depot in Dechencholing, Thimphu has a 300 KL petrol tank and a 700 KL diesel tank. The five fuel stations in Thimphu, together, have 190 KL of petrol and 260 KL of diesel. The stations are operated by three companies; Bhutan Oil Distributors (BOD), Damchen and Druk Petroleum Corporation Limited.
The ministry will ensure that an adequate supply petrol and diesel at all times in the fuel stations. In the event of prolonged roadblocks or force majeure conditions, the ministry will ensure that ambulances, public transport, such as buses and taxis, get adequate supply of fuel at all times.
“This time, we transported eight tankers of fuel from Gelephu via Samdrup Jongkhar, and we will make sure that we have adequate supply at all times. If worse comes to worse, we may even ration fuel but ensure that our ambulances, buses, taxis, trucks carrying oxygen cylinders and other essential goods receive the highest priority,” Lyonpo added.
On speculation of fuel price increase, Lyonpo said that in fact fuel prices for petrol and diesel have fallen just before the heavy rains came in.
“We hear from social media that RBP has levied fines to a few taxi drivers for charging exorbitantly, but I have not heard of the Office of Consumer Protection with MoEA receiving any complaints,” Lyonpo added.
Meanwhile, fuel operator in Thimphu expressed their gratitude to the ministry for ensuring back up fuel supply from the fuel depot in Dechencholing.
The person in-charge of Druk Petroleum, Tshering Dolma, said there was a petrol shortage at the station, but they could get their stock from Dechencholing fuel depot. “On normal days, we sell 3000 to 5000 litres of fuel, but during a time like this, we sold out more than 16,000 litres at the max,”she added.
Similarly, the person in-charge of Tashi BOD said that they had fuel in stock but later on, they have deployed five tankers (petrol and diesel) to BOD from Dechencholing fuel depot. “We could sell 25,000 to 30,000 litres of fuel in a day while during usual time, we sell only 18,000 litres a day,” he added.With the Pasakha-Manitar bypass being restored the fuel situation is normalized in not only Thimphu but also other Dzongkhags.