After owners say no to revised rate: KP sees closure of CNG stations
PESHAWAR, Nov 3: Most compressed natural gas stations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were closed on Saturday as their owners claimed they couldn’t afford to sell CNG at Rs61 per kg minus the manufacturing cost.
Citing unavailability of CNG as a reason, transporters withdrew the recent cut in fare to the misery of commuters.
In Peshawar, long queues of vehicles were seen all through the day at a few filling stations, which sold CNG.
Assistant coordination officer Habibullah Arif told Dawn that the administration had registered cases against owners of five closed filling stations under Section 3/7 of Pakistan Penal Code, and recommended cancellation of their licences to Oil and Gas Registration Authority.
He visited different parts of the district and ordered action against owners of three CNG stations in Hayatabad and two on Warsak Road for over suspension of operations.
The ACO asked others in the business to sell CNG or face crackdown.
He said the administration had established a control room, where the people could report the closure of CNG stations for necessary action.
When contacted, managers of some filling stations said they had acted upon the Supreme Court order to reduce CNG price but the government was unwilling to cooperate with them and therefore, they had no option but to suspend sale of gas.
They said they couldn’t sell CNG at Rs61 per kg minus the manufacturing cost as the price was not affordable for them.
The managers of filling stations also complained about the supply of low pressure gas and said under these circumstances, they couldn’t fuel up vehicles.
Provincial president of CNG Association Muhkim Khan told Dawn that around 70 per cent of filling stations in Peshawar had either stopped or drastically cut the sale of CNG.
“We are compelled to do so because everyone tried to earn money but in the current situation, everyone has to face financial losses of thousands of rupees on a daily basis. This is not tolerable for us all,” he said.
Mr Muhkim claimed that of the over 600 filling stations, 60 to 70 per cent had stopped the sale of CNG in various parts of the province, while many had planned to close down their stations if the CNG price was not reasonably increased.
The provincial president of CNG Association said owners of filling stations were ready to sell CNG at Rs61 per kg if the government helped them bear their expenditure, including the manufacturing cost.
He said the government should minimise taxes and facilitate investors so that they could sell gas in line with the court’s order.
Mr Muhkim said owners of CNG stations were willing to go on a strike but the office-bearers of the association were opposed to it.
Sarhad Transport Owners Association, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa leader Bashir Khan told Dawn that gas shortage was artificial and it was duty of the government to take stern action against filling stations not selling CNG.
He said CNG stations were mostly closed in Buner, Swabi, Swat, Jahangiri, Mardan and Peshawar.
“We have not given a call for strike but the people are doing so on their own,” he said.
In Mansehra district, the administration sealed five filling stations on Saturday for suspending the sale of CNG.
Officials of the administration led by the DCO sealed these stations after their owners refused to sell CNG.
The action prompted many filling stations to begin selling CNG.
An official said the crackdown on closed CNG stations would continue.
Many transporters pulled their vehicles off the road to the misery of commuters, who struggled to reach their destinations.
President of District Bar Association Shahjehan Khan Swati along with other lawyers filed a petition with district and session judge Mohammad Younas, who is also the judge of the local consumer court, for action against filling station owners over suspension of CNG supply.
The judge ordered district police officer Sher Akbar to crack down on the closed CNG stations.
Also in the day, transporters blocked Karakoram Highway on the matter and departed only after the DCO promised strict action against owners of closed CNG stations.
In Abbottabad, Haripur and Havelian, too, most CNG stations remained closed for the second consecutive day.
A group of angry motorists ransacked a CNG station on Mansehra Road, blocked Karakoram Highway for more than one hour and burned old tyres there.
However, no damage to human life was reported.
People said a majority of filling stations stopped selling CNG on Friday under the pretext that the recent massive cut in CNG price had subjected them to huge losses.
They said managers of the closed filling stations announced that the sale of CNG would remain suspended until the next Supreme Court hearing into the matter on Nov 19.
According to them, some CNG stations were open in the morning but the CNG Association office-bearers turned up and forced their managers to close them.
CNG Association president Pasha Jadoon, however, claimed that owners closed CNG stations on their own.
He said the government couldn’t force filling station to continue doing business even though they suffered losses.
Due to closure of CNG stations in Hazara division, a majority of local transport owners pulled their vehicles off the roads stressing out commuters.
There are complaints that owners of the public transport vehicles, which were on the roads, overcharged commuters.
Overall, traffic on the roads was thin.
The people demanded strict action against the closed filling stations.
Also in Swat, most CNG stations were closed in the day stressing out transporters, motorists and commuters alike.