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KARACHI: The deregulation of compressed natural gas (CNG) price proved highly shocking for vehicle owners ahead of the New Year as station owners in Sindh have increased the gas price to Rs70-71 per kg from Rs67.50.

All Pakistan CNG Association Sindh chairman Shabbir Sulemanji said: “We have not notified the new enhanced price. Now dealers are free to fix the prices on their own.”

He claimed that the CNG prices now ranged from Rs70 to Rs71 per kg at various stations of Sindh, showing a raise of Rs2 to Rs3 per kg after entering into the deregulated regime from Dec 13, 2016. CNG deregulation is not a new phenomenon as consumers have witnessed it prior to 2009.

Mr Sulemanji claimed that CNG would still cost 30 per cent less than petrol for vehicle owners. In case petrol price went up from Jan 1, 2017, CNG would still be more than 30pc cheaper than petrol.

He said the CNG price in Punjab was already deregulated, selling between Rs73 and Rs74 per kg as compared to Rs75 per kg price in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. “The CNG price in Sindh is still the cheapest as compared to other provinces despite the price jump,” the CNG body chief said. He said Rs70 per kg gas price in Sindh meant that it would cost consumers Rs 46-47 in terms of per litre. Taking Rs68 per litre price of petrol meant that the CNG in terms of litre was still cheaper by Rs21 per litre, he added.

He said consumers had not seen any price hike in CNG for the past four years. He said the cost of gas had risen due to injection of LNG in Sindh, which caused exorbitant increase in the gross chloriphic value in the gas supplied by the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) to CNG stations, coupled with manpower cost and soaring utility expenses in the last four years.

“We are now in the revival stage after the new gas price as the CNG sector was actually on ventilator,” he said.

Surprisingly, consumers had not shown any anxiety at the stations as many of them were unaware about the new price.

Rickshaw and taxi owners would definitely bring out new gas price from the consumers’ pocket. Rickshaw owners usually charge Rs100 for five to six km distance and for 12kms their charges hover between Rs280-300. In case of CNG load-shedding, they charge Rs120-150 for five to six km and Rs320-350 for 12km.

A rickshaw owner at a CNG station in FB Area said that rickshaw drivers might start charging extra Rs10-20 from travellers after implementation of the new price.

Published in Dawn, December 30th, 2016