Petrol Crisis: Dialogues fail between Oil Tankers Association and Petroleum Minister
Petrol Crisis worsens as strike by oil tanker owners enters third day
KARACHI: With the Oil & Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) failing to convince oil tanker operators to end their strike, a petrol crisis turned worse on Wednesday as most of fuel stations dried up due to disruption in the supply of petroleum products in different parts of the country.
After the failure of the talks between the Ogra and the associations of oil tanker owners, fuel supply remained suspended for the third consecutive day, triggering panic among motorists who were seen scrambling for petrol at fuel stations. Many stations had already wrapped up their businesses on Tuesday night after they ran out of the petrol stock.
Ogra will hold another round of talks with oil tanker owners to persuade them to end strike.
The All Pakistan Oil Tankers Owners Association (APOTOA) and Oil Tankers Contractors Association (OTCA) had jointly given a strike call for indefinite period on Monday, disrupting the supply of petroleum products from Karachi to the entire country in protest against what they called stringent regulations relating to fitness of their vehicles and fines by the Motorway police.
They warned to continue their strike until their demands were not met.
Speaking to reporters after talks, APOTA chairman Yousuf Shahwani said that the talks with government had failed and the tankers strike will continue. “We presented a list of demands and the government refused to accept it”, he added.
Accusing the National Highway Authority (NHA) police of highhandedness, he said they deliberately fined and persecute oil tanker drivers. To a query, he claimed that the company or the oil tanker was not responsible for the loss of lives in Bahawalpur oil tanker inferno, but the people who were stealing oil were responsible for it.
However, the OGRA suspected a hidden hand behind the strike as its spokesman claimed the oil companies were behind the strike.
Earlier, Shahwani said, “Oil tankers pay three-months advance taxes to the government but in return they get no relief,” adding that the authorities have unfair attitude towards them.
“In addition to all this, the Motorway Police have been imposing unwarranted penalties. The patrolling police have also been harassing oil tanker owners in Punjab while the excise police in Sindh extorted by threatening the oil-tankers owners”, he further said.
It is to be mentioned here that more than 200 people were burnt to death and dozens of others injured after a fuel tanker overturned and exploded outside the eastern city of Bahawalpur in Punjab province last month.
The incident occurred on Sunday morning as a large number of people gathered to collect petrol from the overturned vehicle, according to rescue services. Residents could be seen walking past blackened and twisted bodies piled by the side of the road.