They say that necessity is the mother of invention. Some innovative small businessmen in Rawalpindi have come up with a solution to their gas load-shedding problems – although their resourcefulness does come at the expense of others.
Many local eateries and tandoors have invested in a locally-made compressor, which works like a suction pump does for water lines. The compressor sucks the gas supply from the main line, depriving others of their share.
A small compressor costs Rs1,500 with an additional Rs500 for installation. The cost can go up to Rs4,000 for larger compressors. The beauty of the arrangement is that these compressors do not make any sound – unlike suction pumps – and thus cannot be detected by gas company inspectors.
Those involved in the scam are celebrating their abundant supply of gas. When probed for guilty-feelings, they say they have no choice.
“I am not facing any shortage due to this small component,” said Sultan Ali from Rawalpindi Cantonment. “I know it is illegal but what can we do? The government has allotted CNG stations to wealthy people, but poor people like me who earn a small amount from my trade are suffering.”
Rehmat Ali, a tandoor shop owner, said that he justified the theft as a matter of economic survival. A small Pakistan-made compressor which is used in airconditioners or refrigerators costs between Rs600 and Rs1,000. These compressors are now being sold for much more as demand increases, says Atif Mehmood, a shopkeeper on City Road who sells these items.
Sui Gas Company officials say that the company knows of the nefarious practice and will conduct a survey once the legal requirements are fulfilled.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 29th, 2011.
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