Fuel crisis intensifies in Gilgit-Baltistan

Post-flood miseries continue to haunt the residents of Gilgit-Baltistan.

Shahbbir Mir August 20, 2010

GILGIT: Post-flood miseries continue to haunt the residents of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) as the shortage of petroleum products intensifies on Friday, despite the restoration of the region’s land route with other parts.

Gilgit’s roads look deserted as a result of the crisis, while dozens of vehicles were seen the outside petrol pumps in long queues, waiting for their turns, that at times come after days.

“I have been in the line since last night but don’t know how long I will be in the line for diesel,” said Imtiaz, a taxi driver. He said that no body knew why diesel was not being issued to the vehicles despite the fact the pumps possessed reserves.

Officials said that the local government issued a limited quantity of diesel and petrol to the filling stations.

As the crisis intensified, black marketing thrived, with diesel and petrol being sold at Rs250 and Rs200 per litre. People are surprised how some individuals arrange diesel and petrol despite the crisis that was triggered by blockage of Karakoram Highway since the last week of July.

“Diesel is available in the black market despite pump owners’ claim that they have no fuel in the store,” said Ghulam Ali, a citizen. “The pump owners and the black marketers have secret deals. Pump owners issue to the black marketers in large quantities; they ultimately sell on huge prices, as profit is shared eventually,” he added.

The filing station owners denied these allegations, saying that the shortage continued as they were not provided with additional diesel and petrol.

“I don’t know when this crisis will end,” said a filling station owner. He said that the administration had a strict check on them as they can’t issue fuel to anybody without the deputy commissioner’s permission.

It may be mentioned that vehicles that earlier kept some stock for rainy days, were overcharging commuters. In addition, they had no restriction on accommodating passengers as much as possible even on the rooftops in most of the cases.

Also, around 300 vehicles loaded with necessary food and other items reached Gilgit on Thursday.

Home secretary Asif Lodhi asked the media to highlight positive news elements.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2010.


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