KATHMANDU, Jan 14: The government has directed 18 gasoline stations that are operating at roadsides in Kathmandu Valley to relocate their operations to safer spots.
A cabinet meeting on December 10 endorsed a proposal of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) to direct the petrol pumps to relocate. MoHA forwarded the proposal to the cabinet after a detailed study was carried out by Metropolitan Police Traffic Division, Ramshahpath, Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Lalitpur Sub-Metropolitan City and the Department of Roads.
The cabinet meeting has decided to entrust Nepal Oil Corporation (NoC) with the responsibility of relocating the petrol pumps. “We have come to learn about the cabinet decision. But we are yet to receive an official letter,” said NOC spokesperson Birendra Kumar Goit.
Goit said NOC will take necessary steps after receiving the official letter.
The gasoline stations asked to relocate include Baba Petrol Pump, Shyama Oil and Trishul Petrol Pump at Kalanki, Kota Dhuku Petrol Pump at Balaju, Kanak Trade Concern at Kalimati, Jayanti Petrol Pump and Mayaram Bholaram Petrol Pump at Thapathali and Sita Petrol Pump, Maharajgunj.
Valley Rikesh Petrol Pump at Gairigaun, Kamakhya Petrol Pump at Koteshwar, Jubi Petrol Pump and Baral Petrol Pump at Bauddha, Sajha Petrol Pump and SP International Inc Petrol Pump at Jawalakhel and Balkumari Petrol Pump, Bajrabarahi Petrol Pump and Tika Bhairab Petrol Pump in Chapagaun are among those asked to relocate, according to NOC officials.
The move comes in the wake of the government preparing to remove roadside petrol pumps that have failed to meet basic safety criteria set out by the government. Kota Dhuku Petrol Pump operating on the Balaju-Sorhakhutte route, for instance, has two fuel dispensers that adjoin the footpath. The fuel pump’s storage containers are on the ground floor of a four-storey residential building.
Similarly, SP International Inc Petrol Pump along the Jawalakhel-Pulchowk road is right on the roadside, leaving very little space to park or refuel vehicles. Such petrol pumps have been aggravating traffic congestion, and also posing a hazard for people.
According to NOC, there are 123 petrol stations in Kathmandu, 29 in Lalitpur and 20 in Bhaktapur district. Safety concerns have been raised by various quarters as many pump owners don’t seem to have given any thought to the consequences of any fire incident.
NOC, under an amendment in the petrol dealers by-law in 2017, had directed the pumps to either upgrade their infrastructure or face closure. Most petrol pumps in Kathmandu Valley do not meet basic requirements set out under the by-law. But the state-owned fuel supply monopoly was unable to enforce its own regulations because of pressure from petroleum dealers.
Back in April, Kathmandu Metropolitan City also formed a task force in this connection. The task force recommended immediate removal of 15 refilling stations located at eight different locations in the Valley, to ease vehicular movement and improve traffic management. The panel identified some 40 petrol pumps in the Valley that needed to be relocated.