HARIPUR/ MINGORA/ PESHAWAR/ CHARSADDA:
The non-availability of CNG since Friday has further compounded the problems of the people of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa who are already at the receiving end of long hours of electricity load-shedding.
The roads of the provincial capital bore a deserted look on Saturday as public and private transport remained off the roads due to a CNG strike since Friday. The few public transport vehicles that did ply the city’s roads were running on petrol and made immense profits for their owners by fleecing customers. Many travellers simply resorted to walking on foot to avoid the profiteers.
The Peshawar CNG Association announced the strike for Friday due to “illegal connections provided to some influential people directly from Gurguri pipeline in Karak which disrupts supply to Peshawar.”
Long queues of vehicles could be seen outside the few CNG stations that were open.
Inter-city bus owners also made hay while the sun shone; vehicle owners charged increased fares to those who had to travel out of the city. Sarfaraz, who drives a bus between Mardan and Peshawar, said the one-way fare had been increased by Rs40 because the vehicles are running on petrol.
A member of the CNG association said the strike would continue till all illegal connections are severed.
Most of the CNG stations in Charsadda also remained shut while the few that were open faced the issue of low pressure, offering no relief to the long queues of people who had lined up their vehicles outside these stations.
Taxi driver Hakeemullah told The Express Tribune he had been standing in the line at a CNG station on Peshawar-Shabqadar Road for over an hour, but only managed to get a quarter of his tank filled because the station had low gas pressure.
CNG stations remained closed in Swat because a technical fault occurred in Gurguri pipeline on Friday. However, only CNG stations were subjected to gas suspension, not domestic users.
Swat CNG Association President Tahir Khan said they were told that supply would be restored by 11am on Saturday, however, it had not been restored by evening.
“A rickshaw driver charged Rs150, which is double the normal rate for travelling to Mingora from Qambar.” said Iftikhar Ali, a local.
According to an official at the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines office in Saidu Sharif, the supply will remain suspended until the technical fault is resolved.
Public transport remained off the roads throughout Hazara as well because Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) had suspended supply to all 133 CNG stations of Hazara Division for 24 hours.
According to CNG owners, SNGPL disconnected CNG supply to all 44 stations in Haripur on Friday afternoon without giving any explanations or warning.
Malik Ali Asghar, the former chairman of CNG Owners Association, told The Express Tribune that they had not been told when the supply would be restored.
Meanwhile, Sheeraz Suleman and Kamal Pasha, the district presidents of CNG Owners Association of Mansehra and Abbottabad, informed their respective district administrations that the supply was disconnected because the main lines had developed leaks which would be repaired during the outage.
Suleman and Pasha claimed SNGPL officials had told them that the outage duration could be prolonged to 48 hours. However, there was no CNG available in the division till this report was filed late Saturday evening.
CNG vehicles remained off the roads while transporters running their vehicles on diesel and petrol had a field day and overcharged travellers.
When contacted, SNGPL officials claimed they were unaware of when the supply would be resumed but it could take 48 to 72 hours.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2014.
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