Refusing to abide by Supreme Court prescribed prices of compressed natural gas (CNG), gas stations were shut in major cities throughout Monday, hindering everyday transport across the country.
Privately-operated CNG stations, however, remained open. Long queues of motorists were observed outside these stations which blocked traffic flow on key roads. Hundreds of passengers in Lahore, Peshawar, Karachi and Rawalpindi were gathered at bus stops as bus services remained suspended due to CNG shortage.
On October 25, SC directed CNG prices to be cut after declaring the mechanism of basing CNG prices on petrol prices illegal. The finance ministry has categorically rejected the CNG industry’s demand for a cut in taxes leading to price fall in a meeting held between stakeholders on Monday, hosted by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra).
All Pakistan CNG Association Chairman Ghias Abdullah Paracha claimed that no formal strike had been announced by the association, which station operators were observing on their own accord, adding that it was difficult for station owners to sell gas at the lowered prices and meet stations’ operational costs. CNG users across the country said that suspension of CNG services was a failure on part of the government.
Several commuters in the federal capital faced transport difficulties. “We are being sandwiched between the hands of government and owners of CNG stations,’’ said Muhammad Ghaffar, a CNG user.
In Rawalpindi, an indefinite strike was announced by CNG owners and supply remained suspended in stations at various places.
On the other hand, stations remained closed from as early as 8am in Peshawar. “Our members who bear a loss of Rs17 to Rs21 rupees on each kilogramme of CNG cannot afford to continue business,” the All Pakistan CNG Association Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) president Pervaiz Khattak told The Express Tribune. A few CNG stations remained open, while tents and banners with slogans were spotted outside several stations in the city.
CNG providers in Lahore intimated that stations will remain shut till Thursday morning at least. “We don’t want to reopen stations till Ogra announces new acceptable CNG prices,” said Chairman All Pakistan CNG Association Punjab Chapter.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 27th, 2012.