Oil transporters bring govt to its knees

Govt backs down from enforcing 2009 safety guidelines, pins responsibility for any future mishaps on OMCs

Salman Siddiqui July 26, 2017

KARACHI: Oil transporters prevailed over the law on Wednesday as authorities agreed to relax safety standards for oil tankers, pinning instead the responsibility for any future mishap or accident on oil marketing companies (OMCs).

The government caved in as a result of a three-day strike that dried up most fuel stations across the country by Tuesday night. In return for the relaxation, the transporters agreed to call off their strike.

The oil transporters went on strike on Monday when the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) directed them to meet the safety and quality guidelines introduced in 2009. Efforts to enforce the 2009 regulations gathered pace after an oil tanker toppled in Ahmedpur Sharqia, Punjab, and led to the deaths of over 200 people.

Key among the standards Ogra insisted on enforcing was ensuring all oil tankers had four axles, one more than present in most such vehicles in country. Axles support the vehicle’s body weight and add stability, decreasing chances of it overturning.

Pakistan’s slippery slope as oil shortage fears come alive

Oil Tankers Contractors Association (OTCA) Senior Vice Chairman Shams Shahwani on Wednesday announced the government had withdrawn the condition of adding axles to tankers and had assured it would revise upwards freight charges in the next 15 days.

"The government has accepted six to seven of the 13 conditions we had presented to them for calling off the strike,” he said. “Petroleum Secretary Sikandar Sultan Raja, who chaired the meeting, said he would resign if our demands were not implemented.”

Shahwani said the petroleum ministry would issue minutes of the meeting by Thursday morning. He said follow-up meetings would take place over the next two weeks to execute the transporters’ demands.

The OTCA senior vice chairman added that the petroleum secretary would also coordinate with the National Highway Authority (NHA), Inspector General Motorway Police, Ogra and other concerned authorities to ensure oil transporters were not ‘harassed’ and 'unnecessary laws' were not implemented. The government will also exclude the National Logistics Cell from oil transportation business, he said.

Ahmedpur incident: OGRA ‘responsible’ for tanker blaze

All Pakistan Oil Tankers Owners Association Chairman Akram Durrani said they would add axles to their tankers, but without any pressure. “There is no emergency like situation for us now. We will do it, but no timeframe has been set for it,” he said.

In the meantime, Ogra announced OMCs would be held responsible if any accident takes place.

"In case of any accident causing damage to the life/property of the general public during the interim period, the OMCs (as per their licence conditions), shall be responsible for any obligation whatsoever linked with any such mishap," Ogra spokesperson Imran Ghaznavi said in a handout.

"Ogra will hold discussion with the oil industry in the coming week to review the technical standards 2009 under clause 5 of the said standards, to remove the difficulties being faced by the industry," Ghaznavi said.

“In addition, keeping in view the best national interest and to ensure uninterrupted supply of product to the general public, Ogra will determine the time period during which industry shall bring their fleet to the level of standards subject to the some condition,” he added.

“Ogra will also resolve the issues faced by the cartage contractors regarding freight/IFEM, keeping in view the demand of the cartage contractors, comments/recommendations of Oil Companies Advisory Council and computational framework for cartage rate 2009, issued by the ministry of petroleum and natural resources.”

After the strike was called off, Yousuf Shahwani – another leader of the oil owners association – said oil supplies to petrol pumps would resume shortly.


Humza | 6 years ago | Reply @Ben khan: There so many who blackmail the government. Whether it is Imran Khan or the generals or the transporters, everyone thinks that laws are for others and not for them.
Ben khan | 6 years ago | Reply Blackmailers win again ; government seems hopeless
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