LAHORE: Amid claims of adequate availability and the government warning of stern action against hoarders, the shortage of petrol persists across Punjab disrupting the routine life of the public at large.
The situation is worst in remote areas where the pumps have had no supplies for the last over a month, Dawn has learnt.
On the other hand, the Pakistan Petroleum Dealer Association (PPDA) has held all Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) responsible for not ensuring adequate supplies as per demand thus making the pumps dry and leaving the motorists with no option but to search for petrol in cities.
Rejecting the claim, the OMC Association of Pakistan (OMAP) said some pumps were involved in hoarding petrol and causing artificial shortages to earn more profits keeping in view the expected increase in petroleum prices.
Dealers, OMCs accuse each other of creating artificial shortages
“At present, 30 to 40 per cent of the total 450 pumps in Lahore and its outskirts have no petrol due to squeezed supplies from OMCs, including the largest public sector company and two international firms. Previously these three companies were never to be allegedly involved in such practices. But now they, like others, have started playing such tactics,” PPPDA Punjab Information Secretary Khawaja Atif claimed while talking to Dawn on Thursday.
He said similarly, several pumps are closed for many days in Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Sheikhupra, Sargodha, Sahiwal, Kasur and other districts. However, the situation is worst in the remote areas of various districts where the pumps are without the commodity for almost one month or so, Mr Atif added.
Answering a question, he said that had the petrol pumps been involved in hoarding, they would have been penalised by the respective district administrations.
“During late hours of Wednesday, government teams raided various fuel depots near Kasur, Bhai Pheru, Habibabad and some other areas and seized millions of litres of petrol.
These depots were not of us but of some OMCs. State Minister of Petroleum Dr Musadik Malik has also been informed about this development,“ he explained.
Mr Atif was of the view that the petrol pumps were being targeted by the official teams unnecessarily since they are considered to be a soft target.
Replying another question, he said of 5,000 pumps in Punjab, 450 are operating in Lahore alone and they were being supplied only 1.2 to 1.4 million litres instead of their actual daily demand of 3 million litres.
He claimed that the oil supplies worth Rs1 billion are yet to be cleared by the OMCs.
OMAP chairman Tariq Wazir said the OMCs cannot supply 50,000 litres to a single pump against the entire demand for just 10,000 litres. “How can we do this?” he questioned, adding that the OMCs have sufficient stocks for 20 days.
Sealed and fined
State Minister of Petroleum Musadik Malik on Thursday said the government teams last night inspected more than 900 sites in two districts of Punjab, sealed seven petrol pumps, imposed a fine amounting to Rs785,000 and registered 21 FIRs over fuel hoarding, APP reported.
The teams inspected 530 different sites in Sargodha District and 437 in Faisalabad. In one district fine amounting to Rs230,000 was imposed besides sealing six petrol pumps, while in another district, a fine of Rs553,000 was imposed after sealing a petrol pump. Almost 21 FIRs have also been registered, the minister said in a news conference.
He said these outlets were not providing fuel despite sufficient stocks in their storage tanks.
Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2023
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