The government is expecting to restore normalcy in fuel supply within the next 72 hours as it took a series of steps to speed up transportation to the northern region.
Construction work of an alternative jetty at Notakhola in Sirajganj is going on in full swing to help transportation of fuel supply to the northern districts. Directives have been given for supply of fuel by train to the area.
Instructions have also been given to the Coast Guard and paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) to intensify surveillance at border areas to stop smuggling of fuel.
Lists of dealers, who lifted huge quantity of fuel over last three days from different oil depots across the country, have been sent to the respective district administrations to take stern measures against them if found responsible for its short supply.
Energy adviser Mahmudur Rahman disclosed this to reporters after meetings with the officials of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) and officials of the Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC). The two separate meetings were held at the office of Board of Investment (BoI) Saturday.
The energy adviser said that the BPC was currently facing problem in opening of letters of credit (LCs) for import of fuel.
He, however, claimed that there was no fuel crisis in the country.
He said that LCs for importing 60,000 tonnes of petroleum products are in the process while another LC for importing crude oil worth US$ 45 million will be opened within the next 10 days.
"Banks have been delaying the process of opening of LCs, and there lies the crisis," he said.
Ruling out any possibility of price hike of fuel, Rahman said that no proposal had been made from the ministry and no direction from the prime minister was given in this connection.
He said the country has now stocks of 100,000 tonnes of fuels. One vessel carrying 60,000 tonnes of refined fuel is at the Chittagong port and two more vessels carrying crude oil from Kuwait are on the way.
Some 13 vessels, carrying fuel, has run aground near Baghabari due to the development of silts in the river. Dredging works are being disrupted due to strong current in the river, said BIWTA chairman Riaz Hassan.
Three vessels carrying 750 tonnes of mainly diesel and kerosene from temporary jetty at Notakhola and around 1500 tonnes fuel in lorries will start for northern region within the next 48 hours.
Mahmudur Rahman suspected that cross border smuggling and panic buying might have caused the fuel shortage.
"Hoarding, panic buying by consumers and smuggling are responsible for such fuel shortage," he said.
According to official statistics, on an average demand for diesel until January 22 was 7900 tonnes each day, it stood at 11000 on January 23, 12000 tonnes on January 23 and similar quantity on January 24.
The demand for kerosene per day was 1460 tonnes until January 22, it rose to 2100 tonnes on January 23, 2500 on January 24 and 3200 tonnes on January 25, official statistics claimed.
The BIWTA chairman said that the work on construction of jetty at Notakhola, seven km away from Baghabari port, is going on speedily. He said that one pontoon has already reached there and Roads and High Ways (R&H) will construct approach road.
He said that he would visit the site after meeting with the finance minister M Saifur Rahman today (Sunday).
BPC Chairman Sheikh Khurshid Alam, directors and high officials of the BIWTA were also present at the meeting.