A number of motorists in Karachi and beyond have complained of low mileage and damage to engine as a result of low quality fuel. They are facing the problem because diesel and petrol are being mixed with kerosene. This happens when it is cheaper for the retailers to sell mixed fuel. In turn, unaware motorists pay the full price and their vehicles suffer as a result. To escape detection, kerosene mixing is kept to 10 to 20 percent, but that is more than enough to cause irreparable damage to the machine and deprive consumers from a commodity they have paid for.

Chairman of the Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association (PPDA), Abdul Sami Khan, claimed that such activities cannot take place in major cities due to the checks and balances by the Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs). Hence, they are limited to small cities only. However, Karachi is by no means a small city.

Mr Sami also claimed that PPDA cannot take any action against such acts, and it is the responsibility of the government and the OMCs to impose regulations. Mixing of cheap kerosene cannot take place without the knowledge of the retailers and they need to be held accountable too. The OMCs and the government can impose regulations but retailers have to enforce some standards of their own.

At the same time, Pakistan State Oil (PSO) claims that spot testing takes place very often and only 1 to 1.5 percent cases of adulteration are found. It needs to be understood that if complaints are pouring in, the problem is prevalent and needs to be addressed, no matter where it is concentrated. If the issue is prevalent in rural areas, spot tests should be a more regular occurrence. But the fact that this problem also exists in urban centres tells us that greater regulation across the board is needed.