Mere months after the severe fuel crisis of January 2015, the Punjab and parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are experiencing a major fuel shortage again. To make matters worse, prices of all the petroleum products except high-speed diesel are expected to increase from July 1, 2015, according to official sources, petrol price is going to increase by Rs 3.06 per liter. In view of this Khawaja Atif, general secretary of the Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association (PPDA), blames the OMCs, including Pakistan State Oil, for rationing petroleum and not releasing supplies according to the demand, therefore creating a shortage of fuel. OGRA has been blamed for issuing excess licenses to new OMCs last year, while others blame the conflict over freight shipping rates between the PSO and Pakistan National Shipping Corporation. Due to this mismanagement and the lack of stricter regulation of the OMCs, the citizens continue to suffer in Ramazan with hours of load shedding and now a fuel shortage that could mean days of unproductivity on end.

The slight respite from the situation that consumers received was the news of CNG stations reopening all over Punjab after a long gap of eight months. This would have been positive news for masses as CNG is cheaper and a cleaner fuel to consume, if only the cost had not been increased by almost 25 percent. A medium sized CNG cylinder that cost Rs 600 to fill up now costs around Rs 750. The Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association (LPGA) has blamed the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) for making a hefty increase in the imported LPG prices and termed it an “anti-masses decision”.

The actual problem comes down to accountability. Where there are so many independent bodies in control of the regulation and distribution of resources such as Fuel, Gas and Power, stricter measures have to be taken to hold them accountable. This game of blaming the other and escaping the heat temporarily has to end. The government has failed on many platforms to resolve this ongoing crisis. Instead of focusing on long term goals like investing in and developing renewable energy resources, all we see is the shift of dependency from oil to gas and short term quick fixes like importing LNG from the Middle East.