Hazara Division is grappling with a fuel shortage after the federal government reportedly suspended the supply of petrol to the region in a bid to counter the situation emerging following announcements of long marches by Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri.
According to petrol pump owners, the Punjab government has barred oil tankers from entering Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the supply of diesel and petrol to Hazara’s filling stations has been halted since Saturday as a result.
With stocks quickly run dry, stations are finding it increasingly difficult to provide fuel for vehicles. Petrol pump owners say the supply is likely to resume on August 15, after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek rallies scheduled for Independence Day are over.
The petrol shortage will not bode well for local businesses, especially eateries that rely on tourism.
Hotel and restaurant owners in Galiyat and Kaghan Valley fear their businesses would suffer because thousands of picnickers visit the area on the Independence Day holiday and a fuel shortage means the mobility of tourists will be restricted.
Many think the law and order in Hazara could deteriorate if the central and Punjab governments decide to go head-to-head against PTI and PAT workers.
“There is a lot of uncertainty. No one knows for long the supply of petrol will be suspended and this has forced transporters to keep their vehicles off the roads,” Syed Naushad Shah, the owner of an eatery in Naran Valley, told The Express Tribune on Monday.
Shah said Eid holidays proved to be a boon for businesses as thousands flocked to the Galiyat region. He added the August 14 holiday attracts many tourists annually but the fuel shortage will have a negative impact on the local economy.
Shah explained that although the CNG supply is expected to remain uninterrupted, CNG-fitted vehicles cannot traverse hilly areas like vehicles running on petrol or diesel do.
Hotelier Sardar Rashid also anticipates a sluggish business day on August 14.
“The businessmen of Galiyat have still not recovered from the losses incurred due to a recent anti-encroachment drive in Nathiagali and its surroundings. The fuel shortage is likely to be yet another blow to their businesses,” said Rashid.
Galiyat and Kaghan Valley are lined with hundreds of roadside eateries and hotels that serve tourists during summer. They contribute millions to the provincial kitty annually in the form of taxes and employ hundreds of people.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th,2014.
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