KARACHI: Hardships of consumers have further intensified as the Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL), which had announced opening of CNG stations at 8pm on Thursday, has extended the closure for another 24 hours, till Friday 8pm.
The SSGCL had informed owners of gas stations on Thursday evening regarding decrease of gas supply in the system.
On Wednesday, vehicles had queued up outside gas stations before their opening at 8pm, but after 20 minutes, the SSGCL informed station owners of shutting down gas supply for another 24 hours till 8pm Thursday.
However some pump owners decided to open their pumps at 8pm and several vehicles were able to successfully fill their gas cylinders, but by 11pm the CNG stations were forced to close their stations. People waiting in queues lost their patience over the closure resulting in law and order situation at various pumps.
“In the last 11 days (264 hours), pumps have sold CNG for maximum 30 hours,” coordinator of Sindh Zone of the All Pakistan CNG Association Samir Najmul Hassan said.
He claimed that the SSGCL had been facing a loss of Rs100 million per day due to closure of CNG stations in Sindh which consumed 64mmcfd of gas.
The federal government would also lose revenue in terms of various taxes.
He agreed that some 50 per cent of CNG stations had forcefully opened their outlets from 8pm to 11pm on Wednesday night, but they could not sustain further as SSGCL teams had shut down valves at pumps and turned off valves on Thursday morning with the help of police. Later, the valves were opened.
Mr Samir claimed that CNG was 30 per cent cheaper than petrol in running vehicles which still attracted rickshaw and transport owners mainly.
A SSGCL official, who asked not to be named, said the company had not disconnected gas supply to those pumps which were open after 8pm on Wednesday night.
He said the company had warned station owners over continuing sale of gas during shutdown period and legal action would be taken as per law against them.
He said the company’s gas system still faced with a shortfall as gas supply from Kadenwari and Naimetbasel gas fields was still suspended while there was some improvement in gas supply from Kunarpasakhi.
President of the Karachi Transport Itehad (KTI) Syed Irshad Hussain Bukhari claimed that “out of 7,000-7,500 buses, coaches and mini buses only 500-1,000 are on the roads as 90 per cent of public transport vehicles run on CNG”.
He said majority of transporters were unable to run buses on roads in past four to five days owing to non-availability of CNG.
“If CNG crisis persists in future, we will close down our operations in protest,” Mr Irshad said.
He claimed that the government was demonstrating lack of interest in controlling gas shortage all over the country.
Chairman of CNG Dealers Association Abdul Sami Khan said frequent changes in gas supply plan of the SSGCL was causing serious problems for both vehicle owners and CNG stakeholders and the government should do something practical to avert further serious situation.
Peak factor of ride-hailing services criticised
Meanwhile, consumers are perturbed over continuous peak factor in ride-hailing services apps, saying that these services are exploiting demand and supply gap situation.
“The 12-15 km journey costs Rs600-1,000 during peak factor on Go Mini of a ride hailing service,” a person said seeking justification for high fares from the service operators.
Private rickshaw operators are also making hefty profit as they are demanding Rs400 for a 12km journey on which one litre of petrol (Rs114 per litre) is hardly consumed.
Justifying high fares, a rickshaw owner said running the vehicle on petrol costs 40-50 per cent more than CNG as petrol burns rapidly than CNG in traffic jams and rush. Besides, many people are running rickshaws on daily rent payment to the owners.
Published in Dawn, December 27th, 2019