Islamabad - The oil tankers owners and contractor associations will observe a countrywide strike on Friday against the preferential treatment meted out to National Logistic Cell tankers in the oil business.

NLC tankers are not required to queue up for loading and unloading in all regions of Pakistan while the tankers of other contractors wait for the NLC to fill its tankers, said General Secretary All Pakistan PSO Carriage Contractor Association (APPCCA) Nauman Ali Butt while talking to media persons.

“Besides not lining up for loading and unloading, the NLC is not paying the NOC fee of Rs4 million. The private oil tankers are paying Rs4 million for the NOC/guarantee while no such guarantee money is being charged from NLC. The guarantee money is transferable and refundable,” he said while talking to The Nation.

The other reason for observing the strike is the delay by government in issuing revised freight rates (for hilly areas) for which an agreement was signed between OTCA and OGRA last month. “In Karachi the oil tankers have already started the strike and we will join it from Friday,” said Nauman.

He said the strike will be observed by both the oil tankers owners and contractors associations.

Last month the government had agreed to enhance the freight rates of oil tankers for the areas of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral by 30 percent. Earlier on 18 December, oil tankers stopped supply to hilly areas of AJK, GB and Chitral, after the government delayed the revision of freight rates for these areas. In October last, the government had committed that it will revise the freight rates of oil tankers for AJK, GB and Chitral within one month.

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 hard areas. On October 25, at a meeting between officials of the Petroleum Division, Ogra, APOTA and OTCA, the regulatory body 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.

However, Nauman said, the 30 percent increase will be applicable to the oil tankers providing fuel to hard areas. He said the proposal regarding increase in rate will be forwarded to the petroleum division for approval. The new freight rates will be applicable from January 1st, 2018, he added.

When contacted an official of the NLC, seeking anonymity, said, “NLC is a subsidiary organisation of the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms and works under the umbrella of the National Logistic Board (NLB). The NLC has been mandated by the govt to maintain a ready capacity to manage any crisis in the national logistics cycle and act as counterweight to negative forces in the transportation sector.”

The official said that demands of tanker union were unjustified. The NLC had a valid contract with PSO.

“We are the only fuel transport operators enlisted with PSO which has OGRA compliant fleet. NLC enjoys no exemption from PSO,” he said, adding, “Private oil tankers operators have some disadvantage against the NLC. They have old vintage and unsafe vehicles posing threat to human lives and environment. The Ogra has also given two-year grace period to private operators in this regard. The NLC vehicles have clean record and care the most for safety of human lives by maintaining its fleet in accordance with OGRA safety protocols. The NLC has ensured fuel transportation in the interest of people of Pakistan during recent strike by union. We are a govt organization and follow its orders in letter and spirit.”

“We are ready to follow queue system if managed by the PSO because we have legal agreement with it. The present system is managed by Union,” he maintained.

Regarding the NOC, the official said that “The exorbitant NOC charges have no legal standing and thus not covered under rules. Our commitment is with the people of Pakistan to serve them in the best possible manner. We will play our due role as national transport carrier to protect interests of people and handle any crisis in the national logistics and transportation system,” the official said.