Say the public was not informed about the online service

The introduction of online coupons for kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) by the Thimphu Regional Trade and Industry Office (RTIO) has come as a surprise to consumers.

The RTIO offered the services online from January 1.

However, many consumers in Thimphu returned home without refilling their LPG cylinders and without kerosene. Consumers need to download a mobile application, with which a coupon number will be allocated.

But problems arose since most consumers were unaware of the new system until they reached the fuel depot.

Some consumers said that they encountered technical glitches even after downloading the app, while others said that they didn’t possess a smart phone to download and install the app.

The RTIO issued a notification about the introduction of the new system on the day it was introduced.

The notification posted on the website of the Ministry of Economics Affairs (MoEA) states, “All consumers are requested to avail the online services by downloading the mobile app “PoL mCoupon” from Play Store (Android)/App Store (iPhone).”

According to a user guide posted on the ministry’s website, a consumer must register for LPG and kerosene with the nearest regional trade and industry office to avail the service.

A consumer, Jigme Singye, said he was not aware that such a system was being introduced. “The ministry should have sensitised the public before introducing the online system,” he said.

Jigme Singye also said that the new system was not friendly for illiterate consumers and those who do not possess a smart phone.

Another consumer said the online service should be optional for consumers.

Chaos and confusion surrounded the Motithang fuel depot in Thimphu on the morning of January 1 when the new system went live. The consumers were asked to first download the app to avail a coupon.

Those carrying a smart phone tried to download, and while some succeeded, others didn’t. There were also those who weren’t carrying a smart phone with the app facility.

Some had arrived at the depot as early as 7.30am carrying their LPG consumer card. But the cards were not accepted.

Following the chaos, the depot had to issue LPG cylinders based on consumer card. Despite that some returned without having refilled their cylinder.

The maximum limit for kerosene is 10 litres during summer and 50 litres during winter. A consumer can avail an LPG cylinder a month.

Economic affairs minister Lekey Dorji asked Kuensel to contact the director of trade. Director of trade, Sonam Tenzin, however did not comment saying that the regional trade office director would be the appropriate agency to clarify the issue.

But regional trade director, Kinley Wangchuk was not available for comment.

MB Subba