100915 nepal street rc.jpg (copy)

Lines of trucks wait

their turn for a trip to the gas pump in Kathmandu as Nepal withers under a blockade at the border with India.

Rob Chaney for the Independent Record

KATHMANDU, Nepal -- Traffic has been mild in Nepal's capital city, but that's not a good thing.

A place famous for thrilling Western tourists with left-side-of-the-road, middle-of-the-crowd, high-speed motorized insouciance has been on fuel rationing for going on two weeks. 

A dispute with India over provisions in Nepal's new constitution has prompted blockades that have left more than a thousand fuel trucks idle on the Indian side of the border. International air flights have been advised there's no gas for refueling at Tribhuvan International Airport, Nepal's only foreign air link.

The dispute is over how Indian-sympathetic communities living near the border got treated by Nepal's new constitution. India has asked for amendments to Nepal's constitution, but denies it's involved in the embargo.

In a landlocked country, however, virtually all commercial goods come by one of the few roads to Kathmandu.

The result is massive lines of vehicles parked around gas stations, waiting for their turn at the pump. Private vehicles are limited to even or odd days, while even school buses must wait in queues of trucks and work vehicles.

But it's also meant a much calmer experience for the few drivers with an urgent need to get somewhere.

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