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HomeNationalPanic grips country as dealers’ strike causes most petrol pumps to close

Panic grips country as dealers’ strike causes most petrol pumps to close

The desperate search for fuel and long queues at petrol pumps reflect a ‘situation of lawlessness’

Majority of the petrol pumps across the country remained closed as petroleum dealers went on a countrywide strike on Thursday for an indefinite period to press their demand for increase in their profit margin.

The desperate search for fuel by the citizens portrayed a picture of panic and lawlessness in the country.

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Long queues and huge rush at the petrol pumps on the first day of the strike-call caused huge suffering to the citizens.

Pakistan State Oil (PSO), Shell Pakistan, HASCOL, and Gas and Oil (GO) Pakistan had announced that their company owned and company operated (COCO) stations would remain open during the strike days.

“Long queues and that too for expensive oil, what days we are witnessing, ” said Usman Zafar who was standing at the end of a long queue outside the Shell Petrol Pump on Ferozepur Road.

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“I came here from Empress Road where I was told about a PSO pump, but that was also closed,” said Zafar, expressing his anger at the government authorities that they had promised to keep all PSO petrol pumps open, but such was not the case.

In Lahore, two PSO pumps on UET Road were closed, the same was the situation at Empress Road and Sandra Road, where the citizens were seen desperate in search of fuel.  The petrol pump(s) at Peco Road were also closed while the Husmart petrol pump at Empress Road was also closed.  The Shell petrol pump at Model Town Link Road was open.

Another citizen Taimoor Ahmed said that he was not aware of the strike call given by the dealers on Wednesday and as he reached near Thokar Niaz Baig and decided to fill the tank of his car, he was surprised to see a long queue.

“I just got out of this mess,” said Ahmed, adding that he was there with his family and children and no option was left for him except to wait for his turn in the long queue for fuel.

“Don’t know why it is happening but it is really painful for citizens like us,” he added.

Muhammad Akram, who was pushing his bike to reach a Total petrol pump at Ferozepur Road near Ichra, lost his patience and criticized the government for its failure to handle the dealers.

“I have been late from office and now they will cut my salary,” said Akram.

“It is a complete failure. There is no writ of the state. The Imran Khan government should have handled these dealers,” he said.

Interestingly, there was slightly less traffic on the roads on the first day of strike.

The same situation was witnessed in Karachi and other cities where the citizens were seen desperate in search of petrol. People were also trying to buy open petrol in bottles and small drums.

What profit are the dealers making and what more do they want?

Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association (PPDA) are making Rs3.91 profit margin on per litre of petrol and Rs3.30 on per litre of diesel.  But the dealers demanded Rs6 profit margin on per litre of petrol and diesel.

If the government accepts their demands to increase Rs6 as profit margin on per litre of petrol and diesel then it will go up to Rs9 per litre and Rs 8.50 for petrol and diesel respectively, causing a huge burden on the public.

The oil marketing companies are charging Rs2.97 as profit margin on per litre of petrol. The profit margin of the oil marketing companies will also go up if the government accepts the demands of the Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association (PPDA).

Strike call by the dealers

On Wednesday, PPDA announced to go on a countrywide strike from Thursday (today) to protest against the PTI government for not accepting their demand of increasing profit margin.

“We have no other choice except to go on strike, ” said Khawaja Atif, the Central Information Secretary of PPDA, during a press conference in Lahore on Wednesday.

Khawaja Atif said that the government itself admitted the operational cost of Rs4.90 but the government was giving them only Rs3.91 as commission on per litre sale of petrol. Mian Jahanzeb, another dealer in Lahore, said that they [dealers] and oil tankers were separate.

He said, initially, the government promised to increase the profit margin for them but did nothing for the dealers.

He stated that the government continued to ignore their demands, pointing out that they would not hold talks with authorities till their profit margin on the sale of petroleum products was not increased by 6%.

It may be mentioned here that there are a total of 9,000 petrol pumps and 50 million litres of petrol is consumed daily across the country.



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