KARACHI: Protesting against the torching of four tankers carrying palm oil for industrial units, the ghee and oil industry suspended work for an indefinite period on Saturday following a strike call by the Pakistan Vanaspati Manufacturers Association (PVMA).
On Friday, four National Logistic Cell (NLC) tankers carrying consignments from Port Qasim area were burnt down by miscreants.
Market sources said that some factories remained open on Saturday and also delivered supplies to the markets till evening despite a strict decision announced by PVMA chairman Shaikh Abdul Waheed, highlighting the lack of unity among the PVMA members.
However, the PVMA chairman believed otherwise and maintained that the members were not divided.
“The association had actually announced the decision for shutting down factories from Saturday at 1 pm and many members may have taken some hours to comply with the decision due to a possible communication gap,” he explained.
He further claimed that all 96 PVMA industrial units had suspended ghee and cooking oil supplies to the markets at 3 pm on Saturday for an indefinite period.
He said that the PVMA had hired services of NLC for maintaining smooth supply of edible oil product from the port. The service had been endorsed by the Sindh High Court Karachi vide its judgment on February 15, 2012.
The tanker mafia flouted the orders of the high court and burnt four oil tankers of NLC loaded with edible oil, he said.
He added the industries were closed down to “show solidarity with judiciary, NLC and in our interest.”
While the industries closure will cause shortage of cooking oil and ghee in the market, it will also translate into unemployment of 48,000 direct employees besides revenue loss of Rs 300 million per day to the national kitty.
PVMA has convened an urgent press conference on February 20 in Islamabad to announce important decisions on the industry and developments that took place after burning of NLC oil tankers in Karachi.
PVMA chief also informed the Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani through a letter on February 18 regarding the situation.
He urged the PM to issue direction to all law enforcement agencies and concerned ministries to take appropriate action against the miscreants and save the industry by providing it maximum security.
In his letter to the premier, Waheed maintained that the industry has been victimised for long by constant unilateral increase in transportation rates, black mailing and pilferage of our cargo, he said, adding that the shutdown will continue till such time protection is not assured.