IFTIKHAR ALAM/Israr Ahmed
LAHORE/RAWALPINDI - Fuel crisis continues adding to public woes. Lahore is the worst hit while situation is no different in other cities of Punjab.
Private vehicles have been finding no fuel and most of public transport has been vanished while the rest has been overcharging.
Blaming the mess on the government in a bid to quell the proposed protests of Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PTI) and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), petroleum dealer association representatives have been foreseeing that the chaos will continue until August 14.
Pakistan Petroleum Dealers’ Association Secretary Information Khawaja Atif told The Nation Saturday that petroleum companies had reduced more than 50 per cent fuel supply to filling stations in big cities of Punjab.
Giving example of Lahore, he said that around 350 filling stations of the city need 2.5 million litres per day fuel to meet the demand of vehicles against the present supply of around one million litters per day.
A transport company owner said the fuel supply was disturbed because the government was discouraging even entry of available oil tankers in Lahore and other cities and issued verbal instructions to major oil companies to slow down sales to dealers – a claim the government denied.
Thousands of commuters in Lahore are in trouble as fuel was unavailable at 70 per cent of petrol pumps in different areas. No petrol pump was seen opened at Raiwind Road, Ferozpur Road and Jail Road till Saturday evening.
At the rest, long queues of cars, motorcycles and other vehicles were seen. These filling stations have been fleecing the public.
Petrol pump owners in some areas and retailers continued sale at Rs200 per litre. A motorbike or car owner had to spend almost two to three hours to get a limited fuel from filling station.
The public transport was also vanished at major routes like Multan Road, Jail Road, Canal Road and Ferozpur Road. Thousands of commuters were trapped at city entry and exit points finding no transport to reach their destinations inside Lahore.
People even used boats to enter Lahore from Shahdara. The inter city transport was also much limited to cater the need of the millions of commuter across Punjab. Buses were shortly available from Lahore to other cities from Thokar Bypass and Multan Road presented a deserted look. No transport was available from Sheikhupura to Lahore and from Lahore Bati Chowk to Thokar Niaz Beg. Vans were hardly available from Lahore to Kasur and from Yatim Khana Chowk to other destination inside the city. Moreover, rickshaw drivers and cabbies have been cashing in on the situation.
Meanwhile, the police continued impounding mini-transport and motorbikes in different areas of Lahore and reportedly in other big cities on Saturday. All bus terminals across the province are running with severe shortage of public transport and commuters have been caught in a chaos like situation with mostly of them blaming government about the current situation.
Also in Rawalpindi, motorcyclist and vehicle owners faced severe hardships on Saturday in getting petrol at almost all the filling stations in the city on the second consecutive day.
The petrol was available at Rs 140-150 per litre at private oil agencies and even at some petrol pumps in different areas of the city. Long queues of motorcyclists and vehicle owners were seen at different fuel stations. Public transport remained off the road causing immense trouble for passengers.
Earlier on Friday, almost all the filling stations were shut down by the owners following the rumour that the government was planning to close down petrol stations ahead of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) protests against the government on August 10 and August 14, 2014.
IFTIKHAR ALAM/Israr Ahmed