ISLAMABAD - AHMAD AHMADANI - Expected artificial shortage of fuel in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad as a tactic to thwart the long march would expectedly add miseries to the much-annoyed marchers of Tehreek-e-Minhaj ul Quran (TMQ), led by Tahirul Qadri, it has been learnt on Sunday.

With the start of long march from Lahore, a mammoth gathering is expected in the federal capital today (Monday).

The government in a bid to deal with the long march has devised a strategy to close all entry points of the twin cities, and suspended oil supply to the cities, though unannounced, to frustrate the protest come what may.

The sources in energy sector told TheNation that marchers as well as citizens of twin cities would face serious difficulties in search of fuel from the filling stations as the government has closed all entry points of the twin cities as a security measures to deal with the long march of Dr Tahirul Qadri. Due to closure of entry points of the twin cities no oil supply tanker entered in the federal capital on Sunday.

They said viewing the tradition of burning and trend of looting by charged mob during protest strike calls in the country, owners of above 800 filling stations of twin cities at their will are expected to suspend their business today (Monday) to avoid any untoward incident.

Due to the shortage of petrol, diesel and compressed natural gas (CNG) at the filling stations, woes and worries of common man would touch a new height.  More, temporary fuel supply suspension from the depots of Attock Refinery Limited and Sehala to the twin cities due to unavailability of tankers would further add miseries to the marchers of Tehreek-e-Minhajul Quran (TMQ) besides large number of closure of CNG filling stations in the twin cities.

“The average petrol and diesel consumption of twin cities in normal days stands at 14,000 metric tons per day while diesel consumption is around 5,000 MT/day,” the sources said, adding, that filling stations of twin cities are left with a storage of only one day fuel to meet the entire demands.

It is to note here that following the stay order granted by a local court to the CNG filling station owners, very few filling stations were seen reopened on Sunday in the twin cities.

Upon this, people took a sigh of relief despite long queues of vehicles kept waiting for long hours to get their empty cylinders refilled besides list of difficulties being faced by the residents of twin cities which emerged after the unannounced shortage of fuel in twin cities.

After more than 19 consecutive days of closure, huge rush of private vehicles and public transport was witnessed at Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) filling stations on first day after getting information of provision of gas. Long queues of vehicles were seen at CNG stations waiting for their turn to get their CNG cylinders refilled.

Though motorists were facing difficulties in getting their vehicles’ empty cylinders re-filled, yet they have expressed pleasure over reopening of gas filling stations and said that they were restricted to homes due to high prices and non-availability of petrol. They urged the government and concerned authorities to smoothen the CNG supply so as to lessen the miseries of price hike hit masses.

While, commuters who daily travel between the twin cities have complained about rout violations and charging them with double fare by transporters of twin cities to mint extra money from under the pretext of unannounced CNG and petrol shortage.   The commuters were of the view that large number of public transporters has already suspended their operations while those who are operating do not complete their designated routes.

The commuters have demanded of the authorities concerned to take strict action against the transporters involved in violations and fleecing the passengers with overcharging. Due to no compliance of route, miseries of commuters have worsened in recent past.

Workingwomen are also forced to bear heavy brunt in the shape of exorbitant and negotiated fares by transporters and taxi drivers on account of artificial shortage of CNG and petrol at the filling stations.

They said that due to the absence of fare regulation mechanism the taxi drivers are fleecing the commuters. The citizens are paying high fares due to small number of public transport plying on different routes of the twin cities.

They said the taxi drivers are fleecing them with double fares on the pretext of gas and petrol shortage while standing alone on roadside in twin cities for long hours to get a transport in present context of poor law and order situation is not an easy task.

However, transporters and taxi driver when contacted opined that they have increased their fares unwillingly and are overcharging the passengers with double rates due to artificial shortage of CNG, petrol and diesel in twin cities.