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Tainted petrol blamed for rash of damaged engines
KATHMANDU, Nov 6 - Gasoline lines are a familiar sight in Kathmandu. But this time, the queues of motorcycles are there not for fuel but because of fuel.
Kalyan Paudel, service manager of the Yamaha workshop at Teku, has been busy the last few weeks fielding complaints from angry customers who are flocking to the service centre because their engines have been messed up apparently by adulterated petrol. A tired Paudel is in no mood to continue on the job because of the misbehaviour of customers who claim that the problem is due a technical fault of the motorcycle company.
“Each day, we are dealing with at least 25 motorcycles with problems in their fuel valves or the piston caused by bad gasoline,” said Paudel, pointing to a long queue of motorcycles waiting to be repaired.
Contaminated fuel has taken a heavy toll mainly on two-wheelers during the last three weeks. The number of motorcycles with such complaints has gone up sharply of late.
The problem is not limited to Yamaha motorcycles. Owners of Bajaj, Hero Honda and other leading brands are also reporting similar trouble. Service centres of Toyota and Hyundai cars have also been besieged by upset motorists.
Raju Bhetwal, general manager of Hansraj Hulas Chand & Co., the authorised dealer of Bajaj motorcycles, said the number of customers crowding its service centres has risen sharply in recent days.
“We are dealing with at least 70 to 120 customers everyday who complain of engine trouble in their motorbikes. Three weeks ago, such problems were almost nil,” said Bhetwal. He added that complaints were being received at all its 30 service centres spread across the central and eastern parts of the country.
Such engine damage not only puts motorists out of a huge amount of money, they also have to wait at least two to three days to get their vehicles fixed.
“Damage to the engine caused by adulterated petrol can cost a customer up to Rs. 13,000,” said Bhetwal.
Nawaraj Shrestha, a staffer at the Toyota service centre, said they receive about three complaints about engine damage every day. Other dealers and service centres are also facing hordes of customers with similar problems.
Vehicle dealers blame the problem on adulterated petrol being sold by different petrol pumps. They say gas stations mix kerosene or turpentine in their inventory or supply stock that has been tainted during shipment from the wholesaler.
“I could not start the engine after I had used up 10 litres of the 15 litres of petrol that I bought at a gas station at Teku a week ago. I took my motorcycle in for a check-up, and found the fuel valve completed covered with a black stuff,” said Dipesh Shrestha.
A lab test conducted in Birgunj by Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC), the state-owned oil monopoly, showed the final recovery of petrol contents in their sample to be 95 percent, which is lower than the international standard of 98 percent.
“We suspect NOC officials of being involved in petrol adulteration,” said Bhetwal.
NOC officials dismiss the charge and claim that the petrol is clean when the corporation ships it from its supplier Indian Oil Corporation (IOC).
“IOC has informed us that such problems have not been seen in motorcycles in India,” NOC spokesperson Mukunda Dhungel told the Post.
Motorcycle dealers said engine problem has been reported only in the central and eastern parts of the country.
Shiv Prasad Ghimire, president of the Nepal Petroleum Dealers Association, denied involvement of petrol pumps in such a foul act.
“The petrol being distributed by NOC to its dealers from the Thankot depot and the stock being sold by the dealers has been found to be not very different in quality,” said Ghimire, adding that adulteration might have been done while the oil was en route from Barauni, India to Kathmandu.
The government has formed an investigation committee which is working in eastern Nepal from where a large number of complaints of bad gasoline has been received.
Posted on: 2008-11-05 19:55:27 (Server Time)