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Some petrol pumps open, long lines, dealers strike for profit

List of petrol stations that will stay open

SAMAA | - Posted: Nov 24, 2021 | Last Updated: 1 week ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Nov 24, 2021 | Last Updated: 1 week ago

Photo—Online

Motorists driving through Karachi’s Sharae Faisal experienced one of the worst traffic delays on Wednesday evening as long queues formed on petrol pumps along this key artery of the city hours before a nationwide strike announced by the Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association (PPDA) was to begin.

Fuel stations elsewhere in Lahore, Islamabad, Multan and other cities were also crowded despite assurances from the state-run Pakistan State Oil (PSO) that its company-operated fuel stations would remain open during the strike. Shell, Hascol and other companies followed suit, assuring motorists that they were “ready to serve you.”

However, most pumps in the country are operated by private owners, namely the members of the PPDA. Panic gripped commuters especially in cities like Karachi where a public transport system is almost non-existent now. People in Lahore and Islamabad were no less anxious.

The queues at petrol stations were so long that cars waited on the main Sharae Faisal blocking one lane completely and causing the other lanes to slow down, commuters who travelled from the city centre towards Malir told SAMAA Digital.

Related: List of petrol pump that will remain open during strike

Petrol pumps between Karsaz and Drigh Road were holding back traffic for miles. From the Baloch Colony Flyover traffic moved at a snail’s pace.

Similarly, there were delays at Nursery in Karachi. Similar scenes were reported from the University Road, another main artery of the city.

In other parts of the city, motorists returned empty-handed from petrol pumps after waiting for hours. Numaish Chowrangi and Sakhi Hassan Chowrangi areas also experienced traffic woes caused by queues at fuel stations.

Some of the pumps were closed hours before the strike which, according to PPDA, is to commence from Thursday and may continue for “an unspecified period.”

In Islamabad and Lahore motorists said they had been waiting in queues for hours.

Chaudhry Azam Riaz tweeted a video from Islamabad’s Constitution Avenue showing a long double queue formed on the main road for a petrol pump located in front of the Foreign Office.

Strike being enforced everywhere

The PPDA has activated its network throughout the country to enforce the strike. Petroleum pump owners in smaller cities like Attock have vowed to close pumps from Thursday.

Petrol retailers said that pumps have been crowded since Tuesday because petrol will not be available to the public from Thursday, 6 am.

Muhammad Shoaib Sarwar, a petrol retailer, with two petrol pumps located in Punjab, said both of them will be closed for the strike.

Sarwar added, however, that 5% of pumps may remain open as they are earning enough profit to make a margin. “However, we are negotiating with those retailers and trying to take them into confidence,” he added.

Sarwar said that some petrol retailers are afraid of crowd control as they don’t have enough staff to deal with anxious customers.

Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association’s Information Secretary Khawaja Atif Ahmad said that as the government hasn’t increased their margin yet, they would call a country-wide strike from Thursday and it would continue for an unspecified period.

Only ambulances will be able to get petrol from Thursday, Ahmad said.

It should be mentioned that the dealers had threatened to go on strike throughout the country with effect from November 5 against the government’s delay in increasing their margins.

On November 3, the dealers’ association withdrew its strike call after a government team led by Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar agreed to increase their margins by 6% on the sale of petroleum products in a few days.

Don’t worry, Petroleum division tells Pakistan

The Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division) has announced that all petrol pumps will remain open across the country on November 25. Petroleum Division’s spokesperson said the case to increase the margin for petrol pump owners has been sent to the Economic Coordination Committee.

“People don’t need to worry, the ministry is making efforts for the negotiations,” the spokesperson said.

Why company-operated pumps may open

The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) issued a statement on Wednesday reacting to the call of strike. It ordered oil companies to ensure the supply.

The statement said Ogra enforcement teams will monitor the situation on Thursday and take actions against elements disrupting the supply.

PSO, Shell, Hascol and other companies have issued separate statements announcing that their company-operated pumps will remain open during the strike.

“Pakistan State Oil (PSO) has decided to keep its company operative and petrol pumps open during the strike,” PSO said.

So far, PSO, Shell Pakistan, Total Parco, HASCOL and Gas and Oil Pakistan Ltd (Go Petroleum) have announced that their company-owned petrol pumps to remain “functional” during the strike.

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