KARACHI: A day after the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) suspended gas supply to compressed natural gas (CNG) stations in the province, Sindh Assembly’s opposition and ruling parties jointly condemned the decision and demanded the federal government to intervene in the matter and restore gas supply to Sindh, which produces 70% of the total national gas output.
Submitting a resolution in Sindh Assembly secretariat on Wednesday, Grand Democratic Party MPA Nand Kumar Goklani asked the Sindh government to approach the Centre to ensure uniterrupted gas supply to CNG stations, power plants and industries located in the province.
“Sindh, [despite] being the largest province in terms of producing gas, is suffering from an energy crisis. Gas loadshedding has started in various cities and towns. The government must take notice of this issue and resolve it without any delay,” said Goklani, while speaking to the media.
Meanwhile, Sindh Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh termed the suspension of gas supply a deliberate attempt on the part of the federal government to punish the people of Sindh, who have rejected Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in the province.
“The Prime Minister, in his speeches, had promised to resolve the energy crisis, but he has apparently taken yet another U-turn. I have called the federal petroleum minister and recorded Sindh’s protest on it,” said Shaikh, adding that Sindh plays a significant role in gas production.
“We have demanded to first fulfill Sindh’s needs regarding energy consumption, then supply gas to other provinces,” he said.
SSGC’s decision to suspend gas supply to CNG stations has also irked transporters and the CNG association. They have threatened to protest the move. A large number of buses, taxis, rickshaws and vans were seen parked at various CNG stations in the city, waiting for the gas supply to resume.
The Sindh CNG Association slammed SSGC’s move of suspending gas supply indefinitely to CNG stations. At a press conference in Hyderabad on Wednesday, the association’s patron, Dr Zulfiqar Ahmed Yousfani, claimed that the decision has adversely affected 40,000 labourers employed in Sindh’s 650 CNG stations.
According to him, between Rs80 billion and Rs100b have been invested in setting up CNG stations in the province. He lamented that their investment has been put on stake due to irregular supply of fuel.
He argued that the gas supply to the CNG stations has been suspended from Tuesday for an indefinite period without a justifiable reason. “It has happened for the first time that the stations are closed indefinitely.”
Yousfani said that the association is planning to hold protests at the offices of SSGC in Karachi and Hyderabad. “Pakistan’s federal government had claimed that it will create jobs for tens of thousands of unemployed people. On the contrary, its measures are rendering as many people redundant.”
He said that the Sindh province is responsible for 70% of the country’s total gas production and Article 158-B of the Constitution allowed a province to meets its demand before sharing gas with other provinces. He contended that the gas supply suspension is a violation of that Article.
Meanwhile, Sindh Hiace Van Association announced to block the National Highway in Sukkur on December 16. The association’s president, Manzoor Ali Brohi, claimed that 5,000 to 6,000 CNG-fitted vans in Sindh provided transport to around 400,000 passengers daily in the province.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 13th, 2018.