Talks between GB CM, tanker owners failed

Islamabad – Talks between the Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) chief minister and oil tanker owners for resuming oil supply to hard areas, including GB, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Chitral, failed as the suppliers’ strike entered the second week on Sunday with most petrol pumps running out of fuel in several areas.

“GB Chief Minister Hafiz Hafeezur Rehman had requested us to resume the oil supply, but we simply told him that unless the government issued a notification for new freight rates, the supply was not going to restart,” All Pakistan Oil Tankers and Contractors’ Association General Secretary Nauman Ali Butt told The Nation.

The talks between Rehman and a delegation of All Pakistan Oil Tanker Owners Association (APOTA) and Oil Tankers Contractor Association (OTCA) held here made no headway.

Butt said that “The Petroleum Division and the Ogra have convened a meeting of all stakeholders on December 27 to bring an end to the oil tankers’ strike, which has entered the second week. But the GB chief minister wants us to call off the strike.”

Fuel shortage in strike-stricken areas has reportedly occurred and the GB chief minister showed up here to resolve the issue prior to the scheduled meeting of December 27. He had requested to postpone the strike for two days till the meeting occurs as he was going to write a letter to Prime Minister Shahi Khaqan Abbasi, requesting him to help resolve the issue.

Since the government has delayed increase in the oil tankers’ fare for hilly areas of AJK, GB and Chitral, the oil tankers stopped supply to those areas on December 18.

The daily consumption of fuel in these areas ranges between 50,000 and 60000 liters and the crisis has already loomed. Except for the Pakistan State Oil, no other oil company has a storage depot in AJK, GB and Chitral and they are totally relying on the supply of tankers on a daily basis.

“The PSO has a depot in Jaglot GB, while Chitral and AJK had no depot,” Butt said, and added, “The government is delaying the fulfillment of its promise regarding enhancement of freight charges for hard areas and now we don’t trust anyone and will continue the strike till the fulfillment of our demands.”

“In October last, the government had committed that it will revise the freight rate of oil tankers for AJK, GB and Chitral within one month, but now they are using delaying tactics,” he said.

Representatives of APOTA and OTCA and the government agreed for the enhancement of freight charges for entire Pakistan in two phases.

In the first phase, the government had promised to allow an increase in fares for oil transportation between the cities and hilly areas, while in the second phase, it had promised to allow an increase in the freight charges for GB, AJK, Chitral and other hilly areas.

An agreement for increase in freight charges was reached on October 25 at a meeting between officials of the Petroleum Division, Ogra, APOTA and OTCA. The Ogra upward revised the fares for oil transportation and allowed an increase of 19.7 percent to 63.93 percent in fares of different slabs of oil transportation.

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