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June 6, 2020

Petrol shortage

Editorial

 
June 6, 2020

For the past few days, an unexpected fuel shortage across the country has taken commuters by surprise. It is unexpected because for the past nearly three months, due to a major reduction in travel in almost all modes of transport, fuel consumption was at a much lower level than normal. As if the people of this country are not already facing enough miseries due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant economic woes, this new fuel crisis is entirely the result of gross mismanagement. Even in Karachi where all imported fuel docks, and from where petroleum and its related products are sent upcountry, one could see petrol stations empty or with long queues of vehicles. Karachi is the financial hub of the country and if even this city faces such scarcity one can imagine the situation in other cities and towns.

Petrol pump owners say that they have been facing a shortage of fuel supply for the past many days, despite their repeated requests to suppliers. This shortage emerged as soon as the intercity and intracity public transport was allowed to ply after many weeks of a near lockdown situation. As people and transporters brought their vehicles back to the roads they have been facing difficulties. According to reports, in some cases, more expensive high-octane is the only available option to commuters. The All Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association (APPDA) is solely blaming the suppliers. The problem appears to be that some petroleum companies did not buy petrol at lower prices, and now when the prices have been reduced they want to recoup their losses by creating an artificial shortage in the market.

The question is: when these private petroleum companies were not buying, storing and supplying, what were the authorities doing? Is there no mechanism in the country to keep tabs on these issues? There appears to be gross negligence on the part of those concerned. The Oil and Gas Regulatory Association must answer a few tough questions. Any delay in the import of petroleum should have been noticed immediately because there are certain SOPs that the companies are supposed to follow, failing which the government is bound to take action.