LPG consumers irked by high price, shortage

Shortage of LPG coupled with a sharp rise in its prices has led rickshaw drivers to increase their fares.


Nauman Tasleem August 31, 2010

LAHORE: The shortage of the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), coupled with a sharp rise in its prices, has led the two-stroke rickshaw drivers to increase their fares, The Express Tribune has learnt. It has also hit hard the industry and some residential societies using it as the main energy source.

Though most main roads and adjoining high-income areas have been banned for the two-stroke rickshaws, a large number still operates in the middle-to-low income neighbourhoods of the city. Taking to The Express Tribune, the drivers said that the LPG prices had skyrocketed and they had no choice but to increase fares.

“The prices have almost doubled in one month. It is not possible to meet ends by charging fares as before,” Munir Ahmed, a two-stroke rickshaw driver, said.

He said that LPG has even left behind the petrol, which once used to be the most expensive fuel.

Irfan Khokhar, the LPG Distributors Association chairman, said that last week the LPG price was raised for the fifth time in August and was fixed at Rs110-Rs115 per kg. He said that though the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) intervened and brought it down to Rs83 per kg, the producers were still selling it at higher rates. He said that the distributors had no option but to sell LPG at higher rates. “The high rates have led to a decline in our sales and profits,” Khokhar said.

He alleged that the LPG-mafia had extracted around Rs22 million from public in Ramazan alone by increasing prices.

Farooq Shah, a passenger, said that he used to pay Rs2,500 to the rickshaw driver to pick and drop his children from school. “He has increased his charges to Rs3,500 and says its not possible for him to carry on at previous rates.

The glass, steel, plastic and textile industries that had converted from natural gas, owing to the frequent outages, to LPG have been hit hard by the increase in rates. The cost of production in these industries has risen sharply.

Residents in a number of housing societies that lacked a Sui Gas connection had also been using LPG cylinders. Irked by the increase in prices, some are moving to cheaper sources such as kerosene oil.

“I had been buying LPG at higher rates but for last three days but it has suddenly disappeared from the market,” Shahzeb Khan, a resident of Architect Society, said. “Kerosene oil is hazardous but I have no option but to switch to it.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 31st, 2010.

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