After CNG, citizens now queue up for petrol
ISLAMABAD: Like a large number of motorists, Tariq Mehmood was fearful, tense and distressed while driving towards his office in Islamabad from Rawalpindi Monday morning.
He was in the predicament not because of any insecurity or due to the fear of any natural calamity.
His main concern was the almost empty petrol tank of his car and the long queues of vehicles at every petrol station that he passed by.
“The needle of the fuel gauge was at the ‘E’ mark and obviously there was no CNG in the car,” said Mr Mehmood.
However, after reaching the office he took time out and was lucky enough to get petrol from Super Market after waiting for around an hour at a petrol pump there.
It may be noted that after the three-day weekly loadshedding, CNG stations did not open early Sunday as the SNGPL extended the shutdown to six days.
The rush for purchase of petrol was so severe that the Islamabad traffic police had to deploy personnel around many of the filling stations to ensure that the lines of vehicles did not block the traffic on the nearby roads.
As the rush of vehicles kept on growing, almost all the petrol pumps in the twin cities started going dry by the afternoon, creating panic among the buyers.
“As soon as I reached a petrol station at Sitara Market, the staff there pulled the barriers. I hurried to another pump near the press club and managed to get 10 litres petrol after spending almost an hour in the queue,” said Mohammad Bilal, a shopkeeper at Aabpara.
Luckily, the management of a few pumps in Islamabad had placed supply order for 10,000 litres on Saturday which arrived by late afternoon on Monday. However, their stocks also exhausted at around 11pm.
About the possible situation on Tuesday, Raja Wasim, the owner of a petrol station at Sitara Market, said. “We have enough stock for the day but since the CNG stations are totally closed and there is no alternative fuel, the demand would remain high.”
He added: “The serious thing is that banks are closed on January 1 and we cannot make payments for the fresh supplies on Tuesday.”
Since there will not be any fresh order on Tuesday, the shortage can be expected in the evening and on Wednesday morning, he added.
However, Dr Asim Hussain, the adviser to the prime minister on petroleum, expressed confidence that the fuel shortage would not be of more than 1-2 days.
“We have around 2,500 tons of petrol at the PSO Sihala depot and the total demand for Rawalpindi-Islamabad is around 500 tons daily. You may add 10 per cent more to that, and still there is no need for panic,” he added.
The fuel shortage not only created hardship for motorists but also for commuters of public transport as the number of wagons declined sharply after midday.
“It is most depressing to see that over 100 people, including women and children, are shivering at the bus stops and our wagons are parked in the stands,” said Sultan Awan, the chairman of Rawalpindi-Islamabad transport association.
He said the average fare collection was Rs4,000 but many wagons consumed petrol of Rs6,000.
Therefore, they halted operation after one or two round trips.
Attock: With the closure of the CNG stations, shortage of petrol in Attock district also created hardship for the people. Long queues were seen at all the filling stations.
Mr Arif, a motorist, said earlier they were facing trouble in getting CNG but now they had to wait in long queues for purchase of petrol.
An employee of a petrol pump at Attock Kamra Road said they ran out of stock by 1pm due to huge rush of vehicles. He said petrol would be available from Tuesday morning when new stock arrives.
An owner of a CNG station said the SNGPL had directed them not to open the stations. He said the government wanted to discourage the use of CNG in the country.
GUJAR KHAN: With the closure of the CNG stations, petrol also disappeared in Rawat, Mandra, Gujar Khan, Sohawa and Jhelum.
However, black marketing of the fuel went on unnoticed by the local administration.
There was very thin traffic on the G.T. Road and adjoining highways as filling stations stopped sale.
On the other hand, sale of petrol in cans and containers at the rate of Rs150-170 per litre continued in closed doors by petrol pumps operated under national and multinational companies.
The motorists were seen carrying empty bottles and wandering from pump to pump in search of the fuel.
Several families were seen stuck in the middle of roads as taxis and other vehicles ran out of fuel.
People travelling to their destinations on the last evening of 2012 were destined to see the dawn of the new year on roads.
On the other hand, the traders who used to run their generators to overcome electricity loadshedding were left with no other option but hopelessly gaze at these silent machines while sitting in their shops.
Interestingly, there was no police, price control mechanism or any official from the government side to come to the rescue of the commuters.
The people were left at the mercy of their luck or the power to buy petrol in the black market to continue their journey.