LAHORE: The provincial metropolis and other parts of the province faced a severe shortage of petrol and other petroleum products on Thursday due to the closure of supplies allegedly on the part of oil marketing companies (OMCs) following the major roads blocked by the government to thwart the PTI long march.

On the other hand, the people thronged fuel pumps after the government increase petrol price by Rs30 per litre.

The apprehension of setting oil tankers on fire by the charged PTI’s workers was also another reason that forced the OMCs to better suspend the supplies of petroleum products, Dawn has learnt.

“In fact, we have already been getting squeezed supply of petrol and diesel for the last three months due to the pricing issue, while dollar exchange rate hike and supply of products to dealers on the rates higher than the price fixed by the government are pressing issues,” Pakistan Petroleum Dealer Association Secretary-Information Khawaja Atif told Dawn on Thursday.

But, he said, the situation aggravated after the PTI announced long march on Islamabad on May 25, forcing the government to block all major roads leading to Islamabad and Rawalpindi from several major and small cities of the province that eventually brought our supplies to a halt, affecting the supply chain to the cities by the OMCs from their respective depots.

Mr Atif said another reason was the panic buying these days, as the commuters thronged the petrol pumps that could not meet their demand due to short supplies they have been facing already.

He said since the participants in the long marchers were reportedly found charged, OMCs were also of the view that the oil tankers might be damaged by protesters.

Mr Atif said the pricing issue is allegedly on the part of OMCs and not the dealers. Some of the OMCs used to refuse supplies to the dealers on the pretext of lowering of stocks. But, on the other hand, they, through their agents, appear to be ready to give supplies at rates higher than those fixed by the government.

“So, in such a situation, how the dealers can purchase the petroleum products on higher rates and sell them to the public at large on lower rates,” he said.

“The situation in other cities, especially those attracting less attention of media, is more problematic than Lahore,” Mr Atif maintained, adding that shortage persisted on most of Lahore’s over 400 petrol pumps.

The Oil and Marketing Association of Pakistan (OMAP), however, dispelled the impression, claiming that it ensured an uninterrupted supply of POL products during the political turmoil in the country.

“To facilitate the general public during turmoil, the OMAP ensured the uninterrupted supply of petroleum products even though several roads were blocked in major cities,” association chairman Tariq Wazir Ali said in a statement on Thursday.

He said since, for providing this service to people, the support of several government officials and departments was exceptional, the association appreciated the services of the Punjab chief secretary, and the Lahore administration for working round the clock. “These officials not only allowed entry of fuel tankers but also provided security to these tankers to reach fuel stations,” he claimed.

According to him, usually in such a situation, fuel shortage is common. But this time all members of the association decided that every effort would be utilized for providing services to the general public. “There is no any shortage across the country although the law and order situation remained very much alarming,” he said.

Meanwhile, the citizens faced great incontinence after being denied of petrol at the fuel pumps.

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2022

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