Thursday, 3 December 2015

Waiting for Gas

We are now in the third month of this blockade. We wrote at the end of September about how the Nepali border with India had been closed. Nepal is landlocked and so depends very heavily on India for pretty much all its imports.
Queuing for kerosene...

A lot of people have now run out of cooking gas and so are cooking on wood fires – the air is noticeably smoggier.

Petrol is being sold in very limited amounts. What petrol there is being prioritised to schools, hospitals, buses and government agencies.

Shop shelves are looking sparse as all imported goods start to run out.

Electricity is erratic as those who can afford it have bought electric induction plates and other similar things for cooking and are stretching the system. From tomorrow our regularly scheduled power cuts will increase to 8 and 9 hours a day due to the increased electric usage. Although the fuel shortage has meant a number of business have shut down, reducing some power usage, so it could be worse.

The black market is doing a roaring trade though. Roads are not as quiet as we thought they would be, so some petrol is getting through, but is reportedly costing 3 or 4 times the normal price and gas bottles are about 5 times the normal price.
... on our route to school.

The government has allowed gas distributors to sell half full bottles – but transporting them is the next challenge. Our local store apparently has half full gas bottles about 2 hours outside Kathmandu, but the distributors won’t deliver them due to petrol shortages and fears for their own safety.  

We heard of one local organisation that had a supply of partly used gas bottles ready for their heaters this winter, but decided to “raffle” them off to staff who had none for cooking. There was apparently much dancing and celebrating from those who won! KISC has made the decision to not use any gas to heat this year and just keep what we’ve got to keep cooking lunches for staff and students.

So as the weather turns cold here most people are preparing themselves for a cold and grim winter with no fuel, but the bigger danger now is that there is also a big shortage of medicines and vaccines putting many at risk if they have an accident or become ill. This does not count those who lost everything in the April and May earthquakes here and haven’t received the aid they need to get them through the winter – much of it is in country, but can’t be delivered to rural areas due to fuel shortages.

The Nepali people are tough and they are resilient, but they have had a tough year and they deserve a break. People are suffering, people who have already survived two massive earthquakes and hundreds of terrifying aftershocks, people who have buried their loved ones, who have lost homes and possessions.

It is so frustrating to be here in Nepal and feel completely helpless. Please join us in praying that a resolution will be found to this situation quickly.

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