KARACHI - Karachiites on Tuesday faced massive difficulties due to the shortage of petrol in the city as petrol pumps remained closed due to strike by Oil Tanker Contractors Association against the imposition of services sale tax.

However, later the association ended the strike after successful negotiations with the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources. 

Even after the strike was over, motorists were seen queued up at fuel stations, because 80 percent of them were still closed due to suspension in oil supply since Monday. The sudden suspension in the supply of petrol put people into great trouble, and they were forced to wait for hours and hours at fuel stations to get their oil tanks refilled.

In their search for the commodity, hundreds of motorists parked their vehicles on the roads. 

The strike not only disturbed the routine of common people but also that of law enforcement agencies and others as almost all activities in the city came to a halt. Police personnel were seen asking pump owners to get their tanks refilled for even routine patrolling. 

The city is already facing an extreme transport problem and the strike only added to the woes of people as private and public transport mostly remained off the roads. Earlier in the morning, when the petrol station owners said they were short of petrol due to strike, people did not believe them and blamed them for creating ‘artificial crisis’ to mint more money.

When contacted the Oil Tanker Contractors Association President Babar Ismail told that the strike was ended after negotiations with the federal government. “We have reservations over separate collection of sales tax on services by provinces despite an appeal from the petroleum ministry through a letter to the respective chief secretaries of Punjab and Sindh to delay the collection of tax under the 18th Amendment until June 30,” he added.  He further said that the Association had withdrawn its decision of the strike after receiving assurance by the federal government that the amount of tax would now be collected from petroleum companies rather than the transporters. “This amount would then be given to the respective provinces.

It is worth mentioning here that after the 18th Amendment, the provinces were delegated the powers to collect sales tax from the federation. Sindh Revenue Board was the first to start functioning followed by Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.