In view of the brewing fuel crisis in the country, the federal government has mandated the administrative authorities and law enforcement agencies to launch a crackdown against the hoarders who have been creating an artificial shortage of the petroleum products amid expectations of hike in their prices next week.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has constituted teams of senior officers across the country to take action against those who have been stocking petrol, including the oil marketing companies.
A senior official while talking to The Express Tribune maintained that the teams had been formed at the zonal level and hoarders would be taken to task “without any discrimination”.
The authorities will also inspect the filling stations and take “strict” legal action against their owners if they are found involved in hoarding petrol and diesel. The licences of such filling stations will also be cancelled.
It may be recalled that IG Punjab, on receiving instructions from the provincial government, had provided force to the regional, city and district police chiefs to crack down against such elements.
Meanwhile, in view of the expected hike in the prices of petroleum products next week, the oil marketing companies have stopped the supply across Punjab including Lahore.
The filling stations where petrol is available are providing in meagre quantity.
Lahore needs 3 to 3.2 million litres of petrol, diesel and high octane daily, but after the current crisis, the everyday supply to the city is one to 1.2 million litres.
The pump that needs 50,000 litres of petrol is being supplied only 5,000 litres.
Currently, out of 550 pumps in Lahore, only 115 have petrol available, which is much less than the required demand. For this reason, cars are being fuelled only Rs2,000 to Rs3,000 at a time while motorcycles and rickshaws Rs500 to Rs1,000.
According to Khawaja Atif, Secretary General of Petroleum Dealers Association, oil marketing companies, despite taking millions of rupees in advance had not been supplying petrol to the stations.
He said more than 70 per cent petrol pumps in Punjab had been closed while the filling station owners did not have money to pay salaries to the staff.
Atif said that they had lodged complaints with OGRA multiple times but the regulator did not take action against such oil marketing companies.
He lamented that customers fought with the filling stations’ staff over shortage of petrol, caused damage to the property and beat up their employees.
He said the companies that stocked oil earned billions if the price went up, but the pump owners were held responsible for the shortage of petrol.
Minister of State for Petroleum Musadik Malik while addressing a presser maintained that Pakistan had a stock of petrol for the next 21 days and diesel for 29 days.
He said around 900 petrol pumps were inspected while seven of them were sealed after they were found involved in hoarding.