Long queues of cars and motorcycles were observed at most petrol stations in the city on Friday as sales remained suspended owing to, what the dealers said, was a shortage engineered by oil marketing companies.
The latter, however, rejected the allegation and said they had promptly supplied fuel to all dealers who placed their orders. FIRs were registered by the city administration against fuel stations on Bund Road and Multan Road and in Model Town and Shalimar.
Sohaib Shah, a motorcyclist, told The Express Tribune said he had pushed his bike for over three kilometres to reach home after it ran out of fuel on Wahdat Road. He said sales were suspended at several fuel stations he stopped over on his way to back home. “I offered them to charge me a higher rate but they were just not interested in selling,” he said. He said he had later bought fuel from an unauthorised agency at Rs110 per litre.
Aman Zaib, a motorist, criticised the government for the shortage. “The government should anticipate such problems in supply whenever it is revising prices. It should act in advance to prevent inconvenience to the citizens,” he said.
Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association’s Information Secretary Khawaja Atif Ahmad alleged that the shortage had been engineered by oil marketing companies. He said stations that suspended sales had not received supplies from the marketing companies.
Atif said these dealers had placed orders with the companies well in advance but were not supplied fuel on Friday.
He said the government also shared the blame for the shortage. “We had alerted the home secretary and the district coordination officer six days ago,” he said.
Tariq Zaman, personal staff officer to the DCO, rejected that the government could be held responsible for the situation. He said special magistrates had raided several areas of the city and registered FIRs against eight fuel stations where sales were suspended. He said several others were fined between Rs5,000 and Rs10,000. Zaman said cases were registered only against those stations that suspended sales despite having fuel stock. “There was no action against stations that had run out of stock,” he said.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Pakistan State Oil (PSO) spokesperson Maryium Shah rejected that oil marketing companies were responsible for the shortage of fuel. She said the PSO had supplied petrol to all dealers that had placed their orders in time.
“There is a shortage of fuel at petrol pumps whenever the prices are revised by the government,” she said.
She said the dealers who did not have fuel had failed to place orders in time. “They (the dealers) probably did not place orders anticipating a downward revision in prices,” she said.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 2nd, 2012.