Fuel crisis hits Karachi as pumps run dry

Fuel crisis hits Karachi as pumps run dry

KARACHI/Peshawar, JUL 6: Altho­ugh petroleum dealers announced the postponement of their strike on Friday evening, many consumers faced difficulties in obtaining petrol and diesel earlier in the day, as several pumps were either closed or had run out of stock in Karachi.

The petroleum dealers were protesting against the government’s decision to impose a 0.5 per cent advance turnover tax which, they say, would result in an additional tax burden of Rs1 million per pump, a demand they vehemently rejected and refused to accept under any circumstances.

A petroleum dealer reported that around 50pc of fuel pumps in Karachi were closed ahead of Friday prayers due to a div­ided response to the strike call. However, by evening, most pumps resumed operations before the announc­e­ment by Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association (PPDA) Chairman Abdul Sami Khan to postpone the strike and instruct dealers to reopen pumps from 7pm.

Fuel pumps remained open at Sharea Faisal, I.I. Chundrigar Road, Malir, Korangi, Landhi, North Karachi, Gulshan-i-Iqbal and other areas of the city, he said.

Partial strike observed in KP against imposition of turnover tax

PPDA chairman announced the postponement of the strike, citing the difficulties faced by tourists in northern areas, including Hazara division, Malakand and Swat, who were running low on fuel.

Addressing a press conference at his residence, Mr Khan claimed that over 13,000 fuel pumps across the country remained closed since 6am, declaring the strike a success. He said the association decided to postpone the strike due to the difficulties faced by tourists in northern areas, as well as the challenges encountered by motorcyclists and ambulance services in other cities. But he made it clear that this decision does not mean the association is withdrawing from its demand.

He alleged that the deputy commissioner and assistant commissioners in Hazara and Malakand divisions had coerced PPDA dealers to open their outlets.

“Although the strike has been deferred, it has not ended. We will not remain silent. If our demands are not met, we will persist in our efforts,” he warned.

Mr Khan said the government had unilaterally imposed a new tax without consulting the PPDA, despite their objections. He said the association had held meetings with the finance minister and chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to express their concerns, but they remained silent.

Prior to Friday’s strike, a PPDA team and petroleum ministry officials also held talks on the 0.5pc turnover tax which also remained inconclusive. The PPDA chairman said the sale and purchase of petrol and diesel by retail outlets are fully documented. “We cannot afford to pay additional taxes on top of the already fixed taxes and duties,” he added.

Partial strike in KP

Petroleum dealers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa observed a partial strike against the turnover tax imposed on them by the government in the federal budget. As many of the filling stations were operational because the owners had not observed strike, the motorists faced no shortage of the fuel and traffic was smooth in most parts of the province.

Around 20 per cent of the filling stations in the cantonment and city areas of the provincial capital were closed while the rest remained open, Anwar Khan, a cab driver, told Dawn. He said that he visited each area of the city and cantonment areas for picking and dropping the passengers and faced no issue of fuel shortage.

Only a few pumps were closed in the city and cantonment areas. Similarly, couples of pumps were seen closed on Bara and Kohat roads. However, majority of the filling stations in both areas remained open and motorists did not face any problems tanks.

Sources in petroleum dealers’ association told Dawn that the pumps that remained closed were either owned by association office-bearers or had close ties to the union. Additionally, they said all company-owned pumps remained operational.

KP Petroleum and Cartridge Association Chairman Abdul Majeed told Dawn that their strike was successful and claimed that petrol pump owners across the province observed complete strike.

“We conveyed a message to the government by observing strike against the imposition of new taxes without any justification,” he said. He warned that if their demands were not met then they can go for another strike on the call of the central leadership.

He claimed that 400 petrol pumps observed the strike in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

On the call of Pakistan Petroleum Association, petrol pumps remained closed in Abbottabad district.