PESHAWAR, Jan 7: Transporters in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Monday announced to increase the intercity transport fare by Rs20 per passenger from today (Tuesday) citing closure of around 40 per cent CNG stations in the province over low pressure as a reason.

At the same time, long queues of vehicles were seen at filling stations selling CNG.

The decision to increase the fare was taken during a meeting of the representatives of the different transport unions in the province at General Bus Stand in Peshawar with Urban Transport Union president Khan Zaman in the chair.

Noted among participants were Haji Amir Mohammad Khan, Almas Khan Khalil, Murad Haji, Haq Nawaz Khan and Iftikhar Khan.

“Majority of the transporters have installed gas kits in their vehicles but now, CNG is not available at the most filling stations,” Mr Afridi told Dawn after the meeting.

He said transporters had time and again demanded of the government to ensure smooth supply of gas and fixation of its similar price but to no avail, and therefore, they had to run vehicles on petrol instead of CNG.

Mr Afridi said the most CNG stations had stopped sale, while the rest had been selling air not CNG and that in the prevailing situation, they could not afford to charge the official fare from passengers.

He said transporters had demanded of the relevant authorities to at least increase fare or ensure supply of CNG at all stations.

He said low gas pressure was also not a big issue but owners of these stations wanted to create problems for the people so that to build a pressure for increase in CNG price.

Also in the day, owners of CNG stations took out a rally from Peshawar Press Club to Governor’s House against Adviser to Prime Minister on Petroleum Dr Asim Hussain and demanded of President Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to sack him over the severe gas crisis.

The protestors blocked Sher Shah Soori Road for some time by observing sit in on the road and created problems for the commuters. They also shouted anti-government and anti-Dr Asim Hussain slogans and demanded his early replacement.

“We handed over memorandum at Governor House and Chief Minister House to draw attention of the relevant authorities to resolve the issue at the earliest otherwise owners of CNG stations would observe sit-in on Attock Bridge very soon,” Fazal Muqeem, President of All CNG Association (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter) President said.

He said owners of CNG stations had decided to launch a phase-wise protest campaign against the government and main demands include replacement of Dr Asim, reduction of operation cost, compression cost and regular supply of electricity to CNG stations.“Over 40 percent of CNG stations have stopped sale in a state of compulsion as the pressure is so low that it is causing heavy losses to the investors,” he said, adding that the government should reduce gas tariff and ensure proper gas supply to consumers.

Mr Muqeem said gas production in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was more than its needs but even then the people were tortured by low pressure and even gas loadshedding in majority of the localities.

He said despite court orders, the government did not fix rate of CNG, using delaying tactics, which created problems for all the people, including owners of the stations, consumers and general public as the ultimate sufferers were the poor people.

“We will hold protest demonstrations at the district and divisional levels across the country and will also observe a sit-in on Attock Bridge to block,” Mr Muqeem said, adding that transporters would also accompany them in the protest demonstrations.

It is to be mentioned here that transporters are already overcharging the passengers with no check from provincial transport authority and regional transport authority and the new increase in fare will multiply the people’s misery.

The PTA secretary could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.

However, a PTA official, who pleaded anonymity, said the authority could not fix transport fare under the current uncertain circumstances.

He said the CNG case was pending with the court and once the rate was fixed by the federal government, PTA would announce the revised fare.

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