• Oil tankers to be fitted with high-tech locks

    A long-awaited high-tech locking system will be installed on oil tankers this week, Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) said. The advanced security locking system is expected to prevent gasoline theft during transportation from India to Nepal. The state-owned oil monopoly moved to install the locks following a spate of thefts involving traders and corporation staff. Officials hope theft will be controlled as the security lock can be opened only at the loading and unloading points.

    NOC said it would be implementing the system in coordination with Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), the sole oil supplier to Nepal. In the first phase, the locks will be installed on 220 oil tankers leaving IOC depots in India—100 tankers each at Barauni and Raxaul, and 20 tankers at Siliguri. NOC Spokesperson Sitaram Pokharel said the new locking system would be implemented as a pilot project. “In the beginning, the locks will be fitted to new tankers; later, old tankers will get them too,” he said. NOC said it would be almost impossible to tamper with the electromechanical device. Likewise, it is very difficult to make duplicates.

    The lock will have two keys, one will be kept at the depot in India and the other at the depot in Nepal. Pokharel said NOC was planning to make a master key that will be kept at IOC’s regional offices. “If a tanker operator loses the key, a fine will be charged.” Pokharel said tanker owners would have to install the new lock while transferring ownership of their vehicles or buying new ones. Currently, 1,552 tankers are engaged in transporting fuel from India to Nepal. NOC has targeted to increase the number to 2,300 soon. IOC will be providing the high-tech locks for all tankers used to carry oil to Nepal.

    Gasoline dealers doubt the new locking system will work. “This is not the first time that NOC has attempted to implement a locking system,” said Lilendra Prasad Pradhan, president of the Nepal Petroleum Dealers’ Association. He said the system wouldn’t last long because of NOC’s weak administration.
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