RAWALPINDI/ISLAMABAD - The shortage of petrol and closure of CNG stations have hit the citizens very hard on Monday, keeping the vehicles off the roads and sparking protests at various localities of the city.

This caused enormous problems for commuters. The most affected people with fuel shortage were schoolchildren, students, office goers and common people. Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL), under gas load management plan, decided to cut the supply of the commodity to all the CNG stations for six days a week, thus mounting the maladies of the owners and drivers of taxi cabs, rickshaws and other private transport who mostly ply on CNG, the cheaper fuel near them. Tens of hundreds of motorcycle owners were also gathered on all pumps to get a few litres petrol.

During a survey conducted by TheNation on Monday, long queues were seen on almost all the filling stations selling petrol while at many places bloody quarrels were also reported after the petrol stations refused to fill the empty tanks of vehicles saying “petrol has finished”.

In Rawalpindi division, all 268 CNG pumps stopped supplying the gas on Thursday morning as a good number of the stations had already been closed over the dispute of CNG prices. On Monday, the first working day of the week, brought a bad news for the citizens of petrol shortage. Every body has been running from post to pillar in search of petrol as the commodity was not available anywhere.

The long queues of vehicles on CNG pumps and petrol pumps also caused traffic jams across the city.

Chaudhry Imran Arshad, manager at IT Company at Morgah Mor and resident of Humak, stated that previously they were complaining of closures of CNG stations but now even all pumps were without petrol. He said that he left his house for attending his office at 8:00am but after covering some distance his car stopped because of ending fuel. He said that he then parked his car along with road and reached office by foot.

“They have stopped selling petrol at about 1:00pm saying all of their day supply had been consumed. The situation is worst for taxi drivers who earn on daily basis to keep the things going,” said Amir Yasin, a poor taxi driver, standing in a long queue outside a petrol pump at Misrial Road.

He said that his taxi’s fuel tank was empty and he visited three pumps to get petrol in bottle to even start his vehicle. “Unfortunately, petrol was not available anywhere,” he said leashing out at PPP-led government which, according to him, has totally failed in mitigating the maladies of people. He demanded of President, Prime Minister and Petroleum Minister to resign immediately.

Sumaira Hayat, a college student standing in wait of public transport at Saddar, told this scribe that she has been waiting for public transport to go her college situated at 6th Road but no vehicle arrived so far.

She said that she had to conduct a very important test today but now it seemed she could not be able to reach her college on time.

Cursing President Zardari and his cronies, Shafiq Khan, Zia Hussain and Yasir Javed, all students, said that the plights of masses would not be ended during the new year of 2013 as far as the situation of fuel supply is concerned. They said that the rulers were not serious in giving any relief to the poor of this country.

On the other hand, the fuel shortage triggered a series of violent protests in different areas.

Awami Workers Party (AWP) agitated against fuel shortage at Rawalpindi Press Club and demanded that the Iran-India-Pakistan gas pipeline project be initiated with immediate effect to end the fuel shortage.

While holding placards and banners, the charged protestors chanted slogans against imperialism and anti-people policies of the government.

Speaking on the occasion, AWP Punjab Secretary General Aasim Sajjad said that there was no shortage of resources in Pakistan and available sources were enough to meet the needs of all people. But the distribution of these resources was so skewed that the majority of working people are forced to live without basic amenities, he added.

At Dhoke Dala, a charged mob attacked a petrol pump and tried to burn it. Reportedly a furious brawl erupted between the fillers and the motorists at a petrol pump near Fiazabad on Benazir Bhutto Road (BBR).

The CNG stations will open on Wednesday only for one day and would get closed for next six days.

Agencies adds: Long queues of vehicles were witnessed Monday outside petrol pumps as motorists keen to get petrol, on closure of CNG stations for 5th consecutive day, were frustrated on being told even petrol was not available.

Many were lucky to get petrol from various stations. Others were turned back by petrol pumps’ boys who politely told them to come next time. Compressed natural gas (CNG) shortage has been pestering motorists who are getting used to long queues.        

Several petrol pumps at various localities including sectors G/7, G/8, G/6, F/6 were closed after exhausting their stocks, which further annoyed the consumers. A number of petrol pumps have also refused to fill petrol over Rs 300 for motorcars and Rs 100 for motorcycles respectively, told Ghulam Abbas, a resident of G-6, while talking to APP.

“Thousands of people daily travel through public transport in twin cities to reach their work places. But due to shortage of public transport, they are facing numerous problems”, said Malik Adil, a government servant. A motorist while waiting for his turn at a local filling station said that the consumers have to roam different petrol stations which causing extra fuel consumption as well as loss of time.

A petrol pump owner at Sector G/6 informed that after the closure of CNG outlets in twin cities, the increasing demand of petroleum products prompted shortage at petrol pumps. He pointed out that petrol shortage was result of increasing gap between demand and supply.

Online adds: More than 50 per cent public transporters did not ply their vehicles on Monday on the pretext of CNG loadshedding. Fifty per cent transport going off the road and remaining not completing their designated routes due to fuel shortage has aggravated the commuters’ problems.

Private transport and taxi owners are also fully exploiting the situation by charging over and above the agreed fair as well as not ferrying the passengers to their destinations.

Most of the vehicles have been converted to CNG but transporters are still charging fares of diesel and petrol.

“It will be appreciated if the authorities direct concerned transporters to decrease the fares or ban these vehicles from filling CNG as because of these vehicles many private vehicles suffer for closure of CNG station,” a commuter Muhammad Ramzan said at Shamsabad bus stop.

He said the authorities concerned were supposed to fix the fares of the CNG vehicles and extend the benefit of the same to the public, but so far no step had been taken.

When CNG stations are closed for three days almost 50 percent of public transport and buses go off the road.

The commuters specially the female and old citizens, face hardship as the transporters fleece the passengers and relevant authorities had failed to take action against them.

“I caught a public transport wagon of route number One from Saddar bus stop. When I boarded it, the conductor told me that they are only plying their vehicle upto Faizabad and not going to Islamabad as they are running on diesel due to gas load-shedding,” Saleem Ahmed, a passenger who was waiting on the stop complained.

However, the same vehicle did leave for Islamabad carrying new passengers to charge the double fare, he alleged.

Exploitation of passengers by the transporters has become a routine phenomenon and authorities turn a deaf ear to miseries of commuters who are not only fleeced by the transporters cartel but also deprived of their genuine rights.