NISAR MEHDI AND MANSOOR KHAN KARACHI - Local transporters observed complete strike here on Tuesday in protest against the Presidential Ordinance to raise POL prices. All of the roads in the metropolis presented a deserted look causing severe difficulties for the citizens to reach their destinations. Karachi Transport Ittehad, Karachi Bus Owners Association, Karachi Goods Transport Carrier Association, Karachi National Transporters Federation, Sindh Trucks and Trailers Association, Supreme Council of Transporters, Pakistan Transport Association and others had jointly given the strike call against increase in the prices of petroleum products. Public transport including buses, mini buses and coaches remained off the roads creating serious problems for the commuters. Most of the office goers and daily wagers were observed travelling in rickshaws, taxies, trucks and other private transports to reach their workplaces. Meanwhile, majority of the daily wagers and other commuters returned to their homes after failing to get any transport. On the other hand, due to total absence of public transport, private vehicle owners had a field day and started fleecing the citizens while demanding high fares. Talking to The Nation, Karachi Transport Ittehad President Irshad Hussain Bukhari warned of more strike calls if the government did not withdraw latest hike in the prices of petroleum products. He said that Tuesdays strike was an ultimatum for the government to immediately take back the raise in POL prices, adding that the next meeting of transporters would be held on Saturday 18th July, to decide future course of action. Bukhari further said that neither any government official nor the transport ministry had contacted the association to discuss the issue. He added that a series of strikes would be observed in the Karachi and other parts of the country if Petroleum Development Levy (PDL) were not withdrawn. He continued that the ordinance was promulgated just one day after the Supreme Courts verdict of suspending carbon tax on the petroleum prices. He demanded of the government to reduce 8 rupees per litre on diesel price as it was difficult for transporters to run their businesses under such conditions. On the other hand, absence of public transporters provided a golden opportunity to rickshaw and taxi drivers, Suzuki vans and truck owners to charge excessive fares from the commuters in the metropolis. We are three people and have the same route to go and thats why we have hired this rickshaw, said Faizan Ahmed, returning with two other passengers in rickshaw. He said that citizens had to suffer during such strikes because rickshaw and taxi drivers charge double and even triple fares from them. It was also learnt that attendance at the government and private offices and factories remained very thin as most of the people could not reach their workplace. The daily wagers, belonging to Malir, Sohrab Goth, Quaidabad, Orangi Town, SITE, Surjani and other areas of the metropolis, were among the most affected people.