ISLAMABAD, Nov 26: “An hour ago there was a long queue here, but now the supply has been stopped on the pretext of low pressure,” said Raja Ghulam Ali, a taxi driver, leaving the queue at a filling station on 6th Road in Rawalpindi.
As the row between the CNG sector and the petroleum ministry intensified, the fuel is becoming out of reach for those who run their vehicles on it.
Besides, a large number of stations kept their business closed, blaming the petroleum ministry for pushing their profit margins in the negative.
“CNG business is no more viable as recent developments have left the owners of filling stations with no option but to take loans to pay their utility bills and staff salaries,” claimed Ghiyas Abdullah Paracha, the chairman of the supreme council of all Pakistan CNG Association.
Talking to the media, he added: “Ogra officials in their negotiations with us today (Monday) acknowledged that the CNG sector was overtaxed. They have assured us that the issue will be raised with the petroleum ministry. The decision related to the CNG prices is expected after November 28.”
On the other hand, Ogra officials said a fair report having the versions of all sides would be presented to the Supreme Court in the next hearing of the case on December 5.
Meanwhile, the number of public transport vehicles on the roads dropped significantly by Monday evening as they could not get CNG.
“It is not possible to run on petrol. We can only request the stakeholders to resolve the issue,” said Sultan Awan, the chairman of the twin cities transport federation.
There are 200 to 250 wagons of routes 1, 6, 21, 1-C and 7 plying between Rawalpindi and Islamabad. And if they are not supplied the cheap fuel on Monday night, there will be no public transport on the roads on Tuesday, he added.
The transporters said there were around 5,000 licensed wagons and 5,000 public transport Suzukis which would be without fuel if the CNG stations continued their strike. A similar situation will emerge for taxis.
“I am worried about my school-going children. What will happen if the school wagon does not come to pick them,” said Aman, a resident of Rawalpindi. He added: “The driver has told us that he cannot afford petrol which is over Rs102 per litre.”
The CNG association said the apex court had directed the government to reduce the price of CNG by Rs20 per kg and delink it with the petrol pricing mechanism.
“But the government ordered Ogra to cut the CNG prices by Rs31 per kg without reducing the taxes, levies and cess.”
Without an end to the technical issues in sight, the consumers, especially commuters in public transport, would continue to suffer in the coming days.