Government working on addressing fuel and gas shortage says MoICE minister

The shortage of Liquified Petroleum Gas or LPG cylinders at the fuel depot in Gedu is not something new. According to the people living nearby, this has forced the people in Gedu, Bongo and nearby gewogs to travel to Phuentshogling to refill their LPG cylinders.

Bongo is the biggest gewog in Chhukha by size and the villages are scattered.

Like other residents, Tashi Penjor, the Tshogpa of Bongo-Phasuma Chiwog takes the 45-kilometer journey from his village to Gedu to get his LPG cylinders refilled. To his disappointment, he has to go back empty-handed most of the time. And this is the story of almost everyone in the gewog.

“It is difficult to come to Gedu very often as our village is located 45 kilometres from Gedu and also the road is rough. But when we come, we don’t get it. I am not sure but we feel a few individuals are taking more numbers of LPG cylinders,” said Tashi Penjor, Bongo-Phasuma Tshogpa.

“For us who don’t own vehicles, we have to pay extra transportation charges for LPG cylinders. For example, from Ketokha, we have to pay Nu 250 till the depot and Nu 250 on the way back. Upon reaching the depot, we don’t get LPG cylinders most of the time. And we don’t have a place there where we can keep our cylinders. So, we have to take them back again to the village. And when we again hear that new stocks have arrived, we go back immediately but by the time we reach the depot, stocks would have finished,” said Dendup, a resident.

“The Tala Hydroelectric Project, Gedu Central School and many more schools are located here in addition to the Bhutan Ferro Alloys Limited’s factory, so the population is quite huge. However, I feel like the supply is not proportional to the population here. If that’s the case, I think the management of the company needs to relook at the distribution scheme. As of now, they have not discussed the matter with the gewog administration. And when the gewog office tried to discuss it with them, they did not have much to say about it,” said Tshering Penjor, Bongo Gup.

BBS tried to talk to the in charge of Druk Petroleum, the Petroleum, Oils and Lubricants or POL supplier in Gedu but the person was unavailable for comments. The issue is not limited to gas cylinders alone. People complain that fuel services are also not reliable at the depot.

During the recent Meet The Press session, the Industry, Commerce and Employment Minister Namgyal Dorji said that the ministry is aware of such shortages prevalent in various places such as Lhamoidzingkha Dungkhag, Tashichhoeling Dungkhag, Gedu and Tingtibi.

“Among them, as Lhamoidzingkha is bustling with economic activities such as boulder export, the population there is peaking and the demand for fuel is increasing. However, Druk Petroleum is the only supplier there. So the ministry has given the approval to an additional private POL dealership. Secondly, we have also approved STCBL to start POL services in Lhamoidzingkha. Moreover, the NLC has also decided to lease out the land. This will ease the shortage there. Similarly, for Gedu, Tingtibi and Tashichhoeling, Druk Petroleum is the only supplier, so if there are other applicants, the government is ready to give approval,” said Namgyal Dorji, Industry, Commerce and Employment Minister.

The minister also said the government is also working on issues related to Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS), the payment system used by fuel dealerships. He also said the government is also asking India to supply adequate POL products to Bhutan to meet rising demand. Moreover, the minister added that his ministry is investigating seepage problems that occurred in some fuel depots and will address them.

Kinley Dem, Chhukha

Edited by Kipchu

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