Karachi: The All Pakistan Compressed Natural Gas Association (APCNGA) and the Karachi Transport Ittehad (KTI) on Friday announced that all CNG stations and public transport will stop operating from Saturday (today) onwards.
All private CNG stations will remain closed and public transport will remain off the roads for an indefinite period of time, APCNGA Sindh President Shabbir Sulemanjee announced at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club.
“As the Sui Southern Gas Company continues to create deliberate hurdles in the smooth supply of CNG to the province, the APCNGA and KTI have decided to observe a complete strike to record our protest,” he said.
“CNG stations are shutdown for four to five days ever week. On the days that they are open, the gas pressure is extremely low. All of this has caused massive financial losses for station owners and transporters.”
Both associations had issued a strike warning a few week ago but, after guarantees by the ministry of petroleum, had withdrawn the call. The SSGC managing director had also met with KTI and APCNGA representatives and the standoff was averted for a while as the SSGC stopped conducting 48-hour shutdowns in Sindh.
However, much to the chagrin of the APCNGA and KTI, the SSGC announced another shutdown of 48 hours within the same week. According to Sulemanjee, the APCNGA and the SSGC had mutually decided upon the CNG load shedding schedule for the winters. “We had agreed upon shutdowns on every alternate day but, on January 8, the SSGC violated its commitment by issuing a notification to announce 48-hour closures,” he stated.
“This just goes to show the SSGC’s biased approach towards the CNG sector. The combined consumption of all CNG stations in Sindh is only 80.3 mmcfd, which is a mere 7.84 percent of the province’s total consumption,” said Sulemanjee, while citing a Supreme Court judgement that also termed the SSGC’s attitude ‘harsh and injust’.
“Ironically, the SSGC has violated the fundamental rights awarded to the CNG sector under Article 158 of the Constitution,” he said, “The CNG sector contributes around Rs32 billion in tax revenue and, by substituting at least two billion litres of oil, saves over 1.9 billion dollars,” he further said.
KTI President KTI Syed Irshad Hussain Bukhari said that the private sector has invested a huge amount in CNG. “Thousands of people have converted their vehicles and transporters are also running their vehicles on CNG. We appeal to all the concerned quarters to resolve this crisis on an immediate and permanent basis,” he said.
The strike will only end once the government accepts the CNG industry’s legitimate demands. Our only demand is that the SSGC only close supply in Sindh on alternate days, said the APCNGA and KTI leaders.
Speaking to The News, SSGC’s senior general manager for distribution in Karachi, Aminullah Khan, said that the gas utility itself is in favour of CNG shutdowns on alternate days but it is just not possible at the moment.
“We have not issued the schedule for the coming week and there is a possibility that there may be one shutdown for 48 hours and another for 24 hours. However, it all depends upon the situation on ground,” he said.
A decision over the shutdown schedule could not be taken because the SSGC managing director had gone to Islamabad and Lahore for a few days. He is expected to arrive in Karachi on Saturday (today) and the gas utility will release the closure schedule next week.