Nepal faces shortages as strike enters 12th day
Opposition decided to continue with protests after King offered concessions in a message on Nepal's New Year.india Updated: Apr 16, 2006 14:29 IST
Kathmandu faced shortages of fresh food, cooking gas and gasoline as a strike aiming to force the King to restore democracy shut down the city and dragged into its 12th day on Sunday.
Vendors said fresh green vegetables were unavailable and they were running out of the potatoes and onions they had in storage.
The strike has forced trucks off the highways, the only means of transporting goods and supplies in this mountainous nation with no train tracks.
Only a handful of stores remained open on Sunday.
"We have not had a single truck come in the past 11 days. Whatever we are selling was what we had in stock, or grown locally in Katmandu," said Raj Maharjan, who was selling a few bundles of green onion at the Baneswor vegetable market.
Vegetable prices have risen fivefold, chicken and mutton prices have doubled and gas for cooking was scarce.
Only a few vehicles were plying the streets, and the bus station in the city center was also deserted.
"We have not had any buses leave on long distance routes. Thousands of passengers have been stranded, but we are not sure when the strike will end," said Ramesh Gurung, a bus driver who was playing cards with fellow drivers.
"I have only a little money left and no relatives in Katmandu. I need to get home to Butwal (in south Nepal) but I have been stuck away from my family," said Madhav Silwal, a milk farmer.
The Civil Aviation Authority said most of the internal and international flights were taking off on schedule.
However, the majority of the population cannot afford to buy air tickets.
Thousands of pro-democracy protesters have been demonstrating every day in the streets of Katmandu and major cities and towns since April 6 when the alliance of seven main opposition parties called the general strike to protest King Gyanendra's rule.
Many protests have ended in clashes with security forces, who have already shot dead four people.
The protests are the worst unrest Gyanendra has faced since he sacked the government and seized power 14 months ago.
The King said he took control to restore political order and end a communist insurgency that has left nearly 13,000 people dead in the past decade and made holding elections impossible.
The seven main opposition parties decided late on Friday to continue with the strike and protests after Gyanendra offered few concessions in a message he delivered to mark Nepal's New Year.