Transporters and traders across the country have categorically rejected the massive price hike in petroleum products — with the All Pakistan Transport Owners Association (APTOA) raising fares in protest and threatening to go on a nationwide strike if the government fails to retract its decision.
In a scathing reaction to the ‘illegal’ price hike, the APTOA on Sunday increased transportation fares across the country — five to seven per cent on inter-city routes.
Earlier, the association had condemned the fuel price hike and warned the government to reverse its decision. Transporters then gave the government a deadline till 8pm on Sunday. Arshad Khan Niazi, secretary general of All Transport Association, said that when the government refused to pay any heed to our warning we increased the fares.
He said that fares for diesel buses have been increased from 5% to 7 % while those of CNG wagons have been increased by 10% which would be applicable on the CNG closure day. He said that the new fare for Islamabad is Rs650 which earlier was Rs600. For Karachi the new fare is Rs2,300, up from the previous Rs2,100.
The association complained that the government raised fuel prices at will, but never allowed them to hike fares.
Meanwhile, traders in Karachi said that if the government does not take back its decision within 72 hours, they will launch a civil disobedience movement which will turn into protests and strikes by the traders across the country.
For the first time in the country’s history, all three fuels – petrol, diesel and kerosene oil –cost over Rs100 per litre effective Sunday. Price of CNG has also been raised by up to Rs11.55 per kg.
Talking to The Express Tribune, the representatives of local transporters, traders, chamber of commerce and CNG association have expressed grave concern over the recent hike saying the decision was tantamount to “crushing the middle class”.
The All Pakistan CNG Association has decided to move the high court challenging the decision they claim is in violation of laws and rules of Ogra.
Chairman Ghias Ullah Piracha said that this decision would be detrimental to the CNG industry since only the price of CNG was raised while the gas supplied to homes remained unaffected.
“The discrimination shows that the federal government has deliberately been targeting the CNG sector. If there is a gas shortage, the price for domestic users should have also been raised,” Paracha argued.
“Transporters are going to be the prime victim of the cruel hike in fuel prices,” All Pakistan Transporters Association President Malik Sultan Awan said.
Meanwhile, an emergency meeting of the All Karachi Tajir Ittehad, presided over by its Vice Chairman Jamil Ahmed Paracha, was held at the central office of the Bohra Pir Glass Merchants Group.
The meeting termed the recent increase in the prices of petroleum products and CNG tantamount to a “petrol bomb hurled on the masses”. The meeting decided that if the government did not restore the previous prices within 72 hours, more than 200,000 small traders of Karachi will start a civil disobedience movement by stopping payment of all the utility bills and taxes.
‘Fooling the nation’
Meanwhile, Pakistan People’s Party-Sherpao (PPP-S) Provincial President Sikandar Khan Sherpao said on Sunday that the government has once again fooled the nation by increasing tariffs of petroleum products.
(WITH INPUT BY OUR CORRESPONDENTS IN KARACHI, RAWALPINDI AND PESHAWAR)
Published in The Express Tribune, April 2nd, 2012.