KARACHI – Shortage of fuel owing to strike by the oil transporters has not only disrupted the routine of citizens but also forced them to throng a number of filling stations on Wednesday.
The protest has entered its third day after All Pakistan Oil Tankers Association (APOTA) and the government could not reach an agreement to settle the dust on Tuesday.
In Lahore, Karachi, Hyderabad, Peshawar and other cities, black marketeers are active to take benefit of the prevailing shortage of fuel and helplessness of the citizens.
On July 24, All Pakistan Oil Tankers Association (APOTA) had announced a countrywide strike to protest against the revised safety regulations for oil tankers introduced by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) in the wake of the Ahmedpur Sharqia incident, which had resulted in the death of 218 individuals.
The supply of petroleum products across the country has been affected by the strike, as the movement of nearly 23,000 oil tankers in the country remains halted.
In a meeting on Tuesday, chaired by the secretary petroleum, the Oil Tankers Owners Association (OTOA) Chairman, Mir Muhammad Shahwani, put forward the following demands:
- The National Logistics Cell be abolished.
- Lorries be allowed to pass through the Kohat tunnel.
- Lorries be the only means of oil transportation to Peshawar.
- The current regulations system be continued and stricter laws not be implemented.
- The tariff for lorries be increased.
The reason cited for the failure of the negotiations was the refusal of the OTOA to budge from these demands and its insistence on continuing the protest till they were met.
The Ogra spokesperson, Imran Ghaznavi, rejected the demands saying that the authority will not be backed into a corner through “blackmail”. He also accused oil marketing companies of backing the strike behind the scenes.
“The tankers’ association is not licenced under Ogra; rather it is the oil marketers that are licenced by Ogra and they are now trying to evade the law through this strike,” Ghaznavi said.
“The oil marketing companies have not been following Ogra’s safety regulations,” Ghaznavi added, stating that multiple letters sent to the companies by Ogra in this regard had yielded no response.
“These companies want to play with people’s lives, but Ogra will ensure that this does not happen,” he said.
Ghanznavi clarified that the government wants to resolve the matter but will only do so through civilised discussions. “Threats will not work,” he warned.
“We are ready to hold a dialogue with the marketing companies and will try and hold a discussion with them soon.”