LAHORE /Karachi - The industry has been facing shortage of raw materials for past seven days as truck owners observing strike against the rampant incidents of theft, extortion, and frequent challans of motorway police have stopped pick-up of coal consignments for factories from the Port Qasim.

The cement industry has sought government intervention to end goods transporters strike that is not only causing delay of inland supplies and export consignments but also incurring billions of rupees loss to the private sector.

Industry sources said that supplies of coal and various raw materials are not being transported to any cement producer, which may hurt the productions and subsequently the supplies of cement to retail market in the coming days.

They said that in the prevailing scenario, business community cannot afford an indefinite strike by goods’ transporters that has so far caused a loss of about Rs15 billion.

They said that the bonded transporters’ strike, along with the Muharram holidays, will further delay inland supplies and export consignments, besides resulting in severe congestion at ports.

The cement industry alone consumes around 4.5 million tons of coal as raw material or alternate fuel annually and approximately 14-15000 tons of coal is transported daily from the Port Qasim to different factories including Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

All Pakistan Goods Transport Owners Association has apprised cement factories of their limitations of providing raw materials to cement manufacturers due to their protest campaign. They said that motorway police has imposed an impractical restriction on truck owners that could not be materialised as far as cost and benefit ratio is concerned. They rejected the move of motorway police as they said it will immensely increase the fares that will translate into the increased cost of production for cement producers.

They said that the economic activities have come to a grinding halt due to the strike while a number of industrial units were fast heading towards closure due to non availability of raw materials. He demanded of the government to take matter of goods’ transporters strike seriously and solve this issue on war footing as non availability of industrial goods was hampering the economic activities and exporters would not be able to fulfill their commitments with their foreign buyers.

Meanwhile,  Patron-in-chief KATI, S M Muneer, President All Karachi Industrial Alliance, Mian Zahid Hussain and President KATI Syed Farukh Mazhar have said that the government should consider the genuine demands of goods transporters in order to save economy from the loss of billions of dollars. They also requested transporters to call off the strike in the larger interest of the nation.

S M Muneer said that we have to resolve the issues on urgent basis as there are hundreds of containers lying at ports for clearance and transportation on one hand and on the other, the foreign buyers are cancelling the orders. He also appreciated the decision to reduce the demands by transporters for the greater interest of the country. He appealed Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif and Federal Minister for Finance to consider the genuine demands of goods transporters so that economic activities could be revived.

S M Muneer said that it appears that a conspiracy against imports and exports is being framed.

 The containers loaded with goods worth billions of rupees are waiting for the action of the government.

President All Karachi Industrial Alliance, Mian Zahid Hussain offered the services of business community for resolving the issues between government and goods transporters so that export activities could be revived.

He stressed that government should intervene in the strike of transporters and develop an effective strategy to compel the transporters to call off the strike.

He said that the goods which were to be exported to Europe and other countries in the eve of Christmas and new year are withheld due to strike.

President KATI, Syed Farukh Mazhar said that the perishable items like foods and vegetables lying in the refrigerated containers would be perished if strike would not be called off immediately. He said that similar situation is with seafood, fish and prawn as their export is also jeopardized badly.

He further said that Pakistan is a poor country and it cannot afford loss of billion of dollars due to strike of transporters and appealed all the persons sitting at the helm of affairs to play their due role in this matter.