Nepal Oil Corporation has not been able to prevent gasoline theft from its tankers despite installing advanced security locks on its entire fleet of 1,900 tank trucks.
The state-owned oil monopoly had expected to eliminate fuel theft after fitting the locks, but when a tanker transporting fuel to its depot in Biratnagar turned up with less than the stated amount, suspicions have been raised about the possible involvement of company officials.
Three weeks ago, a tanker bearing licence plate number Ko 1 Kha 5965 bringing a 20-kilolitre cargo of diesel from Indian Oil Corporation’s depot in Barauni, India was found to be 2,500 litres short. The fuel was missing even though the advanced locking system was intact.
“It would not have been possible to steal the fuel by tampering with the new locking system, so Nepal Oil Corporation officials must have been involved,” said a fuel dealer who asked not to be named. The tankers are locked after loading cargo at the company’s sole supplier Indian Oil Corporation’s depot in India, and are unlocked when they arrive in Nepal.
Chief of the Biratnagar depot Dinesh Kumar Yadav is a controversial figure who has been accused of misconduct. Three years ago, when Yadav chief of the Bhalbari depot, he was accused of favouritism when distributing fuel and was transferred to Kathmandu as a result.
The Central Investigation Bureau is probing oil theft,
but Nepal Oil Corporation is also conducting its own investigation. Company spokesperson Birendra Kumar Goit said the probe committee submitted its report to management on Wednesday. He refused to divulge the contents.
In 2014, a police investigation revealed that about 10,500 litres of fuel used to be stolen daily en route from Baitalpur, India to the Bhalwari depot in Bhairahawa. In May, the Special Court convicted 17 persons including three senior officials of the corporation of corruption.
Lilendra Prasad Pradhan, president of the Nepal Petroleum Dealers’ Association, said that theft would not be possible without the involvement of company officials. “A fair investigation should be carried out, and those found responsible should be punished to prevent theft,” Pradhan added.
The Kathmandu Post