RAHIM YAR KHAN: Theft of fuel and wheat during their transportation in connivance with tanker and trailer drivers has been going on for the last few months in the area between Taranda Muhammad Pannah and Kashmore interchanges on the Sukkur-Multan Motorway (M-5).
The footage of the theft of petrol from a tanker parked on the M-5 near Zahirpir went viral on social media the other day, showing four persons shifting petrol to a nearby shop.
According to the sources in the National Highway Authority (NHA), the practice of theft was happening near the service areas or rest areas where the tankers and trailers stop.
The sources said the drivers, who are employees of petroleum and goods companies, connive with petrol/diesel sellers and grocery shopkeepers just along the fence of the motorway. There are many small illegal petrol agencies and grocery shops on the dirt roads used by the farmers along the boundary of M-5 on both sides of it.
The drivers stop their vehicles in front of these shops, transfer petrol and diesel from the company tankers into plastic drums and sell it to the shopkeepers at lower rates. When these tankers reach their destinations, they mix the fuel with soap to increase its quantity and make up for the missing fuel.
Similarly, some trailer and truck drivers of private goods companies, with the conspiracy of shopkeepers, steal wheat bags from the trailers and trucks and sell them also at cheaper rates. Later, the loss of the theft of wheat from trailers and trucks is compensated by the insurance companies as the transported products are insured.
The practice had been in progress for many years on the national highway but it emerged on the M-5 in the last few months, sources said. They added that shopkeepers belonging to villages in the Zahirpir area are allegedly very active in the theft.
National Highway Authority (NHA) spokesperson Sohail Aftab told Dawn that it’s the duty of the National Highway and Motorway Police (NHMP) to take measures for the motorway safety.
He said the NHA would take up the matter with the authorities to monitor the illegal practices along the motorway with the coordination of the NHMP but added that the local law enforcement institutions would have to take steps for the elimination of thieves outside the boundary of the motorway.
NHMP public relations officer Nasir Sial told this correspondent that the NHMP was imposing fines on the heavy vehicles parked on the motorway without any reason while it attended all the vehicles with technical faults to facilitate them. He added that it was the duty of the district police to control crime on the premises outside the motorways.
Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2023