More than 90% of CNG stations in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P)are shut since the price of gas was reduced, said provincial president of CNG Owners Association, Fazal Muqeem.
There are over 600 CNG stations in K-P, of which 350 are located in Peshawar. While commuters rejoiced to the price reduction from Rs97 to Rs61.64 per kilogramme, they now have to wait, sometimes for hours, for their turn to get gas.
Muqeem told The Express Tribune that only those stations are operating which are owned by multi-national companies or the government. He reiterated that CNG stations are running at a loss due to the reduced price.
Akbar Khan, a car owner, said, “Most people think that vehicle owners are rich people who have high purchasing power. This is not the case and we really welcome the reduction,” he said.
Muqeem said that the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority’s (Ogra) decision to lower the CNG price is only for popularity purposes. Ogra is now proposing a new rate of Rs73 per kilogramme without consulting station owners who are the real stakeholders, Muqeem added.
“If the situation persists, I think it will take one year at most to withdraw investment from the CNG sector,” he said. This would lead to unemployment because every station works in three shifts and employs 25 skilled and unskilled workers.
Another consumer Murtaza Khan said it was strange that some stations were open at night and closed during the day. Khan claimed that CNG stations were still making a profit, adding that they would have remained shut if they were operating on losses.
“My tank now gets full in Rs500 as compared to Rs900 I used to pay previously,” he said, adding that he gets better mileage after filling gas at night because of better pressure. He, however, fears that the government could be forced to go back to old rates.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th, 2012.