Illegal fuel outlets make hefty profits

Unauthorised sale of petrol has risen sharply in the wake of the shortage at fuel stations.

Express September 18, 2010

LAHORE: Unauthorised sale of petrol has risen sharply in the wake of the shortage at fuel stations, with some shops overcharging by up to Rs50 per litre.

These shops are not regularised by the government. Usually, these shops overcharge by up to Rs10 or Rs15 but of late they have started charging up to Rs120 per litre.

Sajjad Ahmed Bhutta, the district coordination officer, told The Express Tribune that these shops were operating in violation of the law. He said that the district administration had constituted five teams to take action against those involved in the business. The crack down, he said, had already been launched.

“There are long queues at the fuel stations. You can’t be sure that you’ll get petrol,” Sajid Ali, a Shadman resident, said. He said that though he had to pay extra at the unauthorised shops but it saved him a lot of time.

Ali alleged that the illegal sale of petrol was running in connivance with the staff at fuel stations.

The shops illegally selling petrol have mushroomed in some of the most populated areas of the city including:
Ichhra, Sandah, Rang Mehal, Misri Shah, Sheranwala Gate, Mohni Road, Bilal Gunj, Bhati, Baghbanpura, Garhi Shahu, Darogawala, Shadbagh, Naseerabad, Data Nagar, Singhpura, Shadman and Dharampura.

Saleem Baig, who works at Dharampura, said that he could not find petrol at any filling station on his way from Ferozepur Road to Dharampura. At Dharampura, he said, he went to a small shop with petrol stored in barrels and bought some for Rs120 per litre.

Baig said that all the fuel stations he saw on his way had put up signs reading “Petrol Not Available”.

The management at several filling stations told The Express Tribune that they were helpless.

They said that they were not getting any supplies.

Javed Bashir, a Firdous Market resident, said that he was unable to move around because his car only ran on petrol.

He said he had tried five filling stations and none of them had petrol.

“Something should be done on an urgent basis,” he said, “otherwise businesses will come to a standstill.”

An All-Pakistan Petrol Pumps Association (APPPA) official said that the situation would improve in the coming days when supply of petroleum resumes from oil refineries.

Businesses and industries dependent on petrol have also been hit hard by the shortage.

Faiz Ahmed, a printing press owner, said that the operations of his press were entirely dependent upon petrol. “We cannot mix dyes or cleanse machine-rollers,” he said, adding that if the supply was not resumed, he would go out of business.

He said that he had had to purchase petrol for Rs110 per litre on Thursday and was not even sure if he would get some tomorrow.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2010.


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