Govt to escort essential goods to ensure normal supply
KATHMANDU, May 22: The government has decided to provide armed security escorts to vehicles carrying food and other essential items to prevent their shortage in all 75 districts of the country.
A high-level Supply Management Committee (SMC), coordinated by commerce and supplies Secretary and having secretaries from ministries like home, finance, agriculture and cooperatives among others, took the decision after Chief Secretary Madhav Prasad Ghimire instructed it to act promptly to quell the shortage of essential commodities.
Likewise, the government on Monday also activated Regional and District Security Councils, which are headed by regional administrators and chief district officers across the country. “We have asked them to coordinate with the local business community and supplies officials so that essential goods are not scarce,” said a source at Prime Minister´s Office.
The government followed back to back banda started affecting availability of basic commodities in different parts of the country. Strikes in Tarai districts have resulted in shortage of daily necessities, including foods, in the eastern as well as western hilly districts.
According to our correspondent Dil Bahadur Chhatyal, trucks carrying food meant for hilly districts like Doti, Achham and Bajura in the far-west have been stranded in the Tarai districts. Hospitals in the far west are facing severe shortages of oxygen cylinders, saline and other life-saving drugs.
Some hospitals in Kathmandu too complained on Monday that their stocks of oxygen and medicines were fast running out. Sales of vegetables, fruits and milk have been badly affected in most cities. Import of petroleum products too have come to a halt since Sunday.
“SMC meeting in the evening decided to provide security escorts to the vehicles ferrying petroleum products, vegetables, fruits, milk, oxygen cylinders and medicines, among others,” said Dipak Subedi, spokesperson of Ministry of Commerce and Supplies.
It also instructed the Home Ministry and security agencies to make arrangements for security escorts, whenever asked for by the hospitals, traders and transporters for the delivery of all essential goods.
“Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives has been assigned to coordinate for the transportation of milk, vegetables and milk,” Subedi told Republica. Likewise, the committee has instructed Nepal Food Corporation (NFC) to immediately transfer its food stocks from various depots in the far-western region to districts like Humla.
During the meeting, Nepal Oil Corporation informed the SMC that it has enough fuel to maintain supply for two weeks and Salt Trading Corporation said it had stock of salt enough for six months.
Likewise, National Trading Limited, NFC and private traders informed they had adequate stock of rice, pulses, edible oil and other edible items.
“The meeting identified petroleum products, vegetables, fruits and milk as four major commodities on which SMC needs to focus on in the Kathmandu Valley,” said Subedi.
As for the districts outside the Valley, the committee has asked the local authority to identify sensitive items, and take prompt steps in coordination with the security agencies to maintain their supplies.