LAHORE – SALMAN ABDUHU - Though ghee and cooking oil industry, accepting the orders of the court as well as the Sindh local administration, has announced to call off the strike but the shortage will continue as Karachi transport mafia has refused to accept the orders.

Pakistan Vanaspati Manufacturers Association (PVMA) Chairman Sheikh Waheed while talking to The Nation said that the All Pakistan Oil Tankers Association has rejected the unanimous decision of the court and local administration of Karachi to supply 75 per cent edible oil from Karachi port to the upcountry’s ghee industry. 25 per cent logistic services for the delivery of raw oil will be provided by the NLC, he added.

Sheikh said that PVMA accepted the decision but the Karachi transport mafia’s hooliganism is continuing and they are not ready to lift the consignments from the ports.

The mafia dominated by the Pakhtoons, Sheikh said, has established a state within a state, as it has no respect for the court and the public, who are facing severe shortage of ghee and oil.

“The supply of oil will be affected due to the strike of private tankers owners, who are also protesting against the arrest of their members, who burnt the oil tankers,” he said.

The incident has also shown helplessness of the ghee and cooking oil mills at the hands of transport mafia, which deliberately burnt the oil tankers, causing loss of millions to the industry.

It is to be noted here that all ghee and cooking oil mills throughout the country had shut their units on Feb 18 to protest against Karachi’s transport mafia after an incident in which four tankers, carrying consignments of edible oil, were torched.

The transport mafia, backed by political parties including PPP, MQM and ANP, forced the manufacturers to use its services for transportation purposes despite high rates. The powerful mafia was also involved in stealing the consignments (oil drums) from its supply trucks.

Pakistan Vanaspati Manufacturers Association decided that the gates of all the ghee and cooking oil mills would remain closed to show solidarity with the NLC, whose services are used by PVGMA for the transportation of consignments.

According to the PVMA, to ensure smooth supply of oil to ghee mills all over Pakistan, National Logistic Cell (NLC) was hired by PVMA. The said NLC services have been endorsed by Sindh High Court (SHC), Karachi vide its judgment on Feb 15, 2012. On February 17, 2012, tankers mafia flouted the orders of SHC.

The incident and non-compliance of SHC directions had created a wave of fear and uncertainty among manufacturers of vegetable ghee and cooking oil. He said that PVMA was interested in lifting the oil from terminals at ports in NLC tankers as it is cheaper and safe. He stated that the oil belonged to them and they had the right to transport oil through any source.

PVMA said that private transporters torched four oil tankers near Port Qasim Area. One tanker each belonged to Sufi Industries and Mehboob Industries respectively, while two tankers were taking palm oil for Hafeez Iqbal Industries. These tankers were carrying over 200 tons of oil worth Rs30 million.

The daily supply of raw material from port to all over the country is 6,000 tons and roughly the same quantity of ghee and cooking oil is produced on daily basis, he said.

The tussle between private oil tankers association and PVGMA is not new. Tankers owners had gone on strike twice in January 2011, halting the supply of raw material from port to the ghee/cooking oil units.