LAHORE - Massive price hike of different commodities is expected as National Highway Authority (NHA) has changed its policy and charging transporters double toll rate and forcing them to cut down load of goods.

Source revealed that vulnerable masses will have to bear additional burden as whole industry base including agriculture, textile, steel, cement, sugar, marble, electronic, engineering etc have been hit severely by NHA decision.

The All-Pakistan Goods Transports Owners Association has intimated cement factories their limitations of providing raw material to cement manufacturers due to unfair treatment at the hands of NHA.

They said that the motorway police had imposed an impractical restriction on truck owners. Sources said this decision will alone push price of per bag of cement to Rs10 to Rs 30 across the country.

Sources said that the impact could easily be gauged through case of cement sector which is caught in double jeopardy as loaded truck carrying raw material to factories and finished goods/ cement back to market paying double the freight to carry less than previously allowed weight due to implementation of the decision will increase the freight manifold.

The cement industry alone uses the road transport for local dispatches and export through seaports and to neighbouring countries as well, the total dispatch last month was around 2.6 million tonnes.

As for the raw material the approximately 14,000-15,000 tons of coal is transported daily from Port Qasim to different factories in the country, including Punjab and KPK, while the dispatches from these factories will cost dearly pushing the profit margins of the cement sector to shrink.

Taha Khan Javed, Head of Research at Taurus Securities said that the Govt should play its role to bring about an amicable solution to the transport crisis.

If the strike prolongs, it will definitely impact the cement dispatches and the input cost as the raw material is imported through ports and subsequently transported via road network.

The increase in freight will impact on cement prices as well, if not passed by the manufacturers the profit margins will shrink impacting the share value which will subsequently decrease.

The goods transporters are on strike for the past week which has deteriorated the situation. The cement industry is facing shortage of raw material/ coal as truck owners have stopped picking up coal consignments for factories from Port Qasim.

The supplies of coal and various raw material essential for cement production has become irregular which may hurt production and affect supplies to retail market in the coming days.

Moreover, the consequences will never end here as sugar mills, flour mills, confectionery are facing shortage of material while stock, piled up in factories, rusting due to low load condition by NHA and this situation is creating a ripple effect and shortage in the market.

Experts said one decision of NHA could lead to imbalance demand and supply, distortion in macroeconomic indicators, loss of the revenue of the government, loss of employment opportunities, lower export, under utilisation of resources and lowest production activities at industries.