PSO spokesman says ‘temporary’ shortage will be overcome in ‘couple of days’
After the frequent shortage of gas and water, citizens have been further irked by a drastic shortage of petrol to the provincial capital city, as 80 per cent of filling stations in Lahore closed down Thursday.
A representative of the Association of Petroleum Dealers said that the pumps which were open would also be shut down if the supply of petrol was not restored.
“We are not being supplied oil. We will start the sale of petrol as soon as our supply is restored,” said petrol station owners.
Lahore’s daily consumption of petrol is 2.5 million litres whereas the current supply to the city stands at 400,000 litres.
There are a total of 280 filling stations operating in Lahore. At least 119 of the filling stations are owned by the state-owned oil company, Pakistan State Oil (PSO) while the rest are privately owned.
Commuters complained that due to fuel shortage the transporters had tripled the fare, causing hardships to them.
“I appeal to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to look into this artificial shortage created to further the vested interests of some elements,” said Amir Ali, a citizen waiting in the queue at a filling station.
Another citizen, Muhammad Ahmed, said that he had visited at least three petrol filling stations for refuelling but had to turn away because of the long queues of vehicles waiting to get fuel.
“This is a frustrating situation. We are already without gas and electricity and now petrol has also gone scarce. The government needs to pull up its socks or else it should go home,” he said.
Maham Musaddaq, a working woman, said that rickshaw drivers were exploiting the situation despite the fact that most of the rickshaws were running on Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).
“I usually pay Rs 150 to go to my office but today I was told to pay Rs 250 for the same route. The rickshaw driver said the fare had been increased because of non-availability of petrol,” she said.
Ali Usman, a doctor at a local private hospital, said that most petrol filling stations were charging at least Rs 100 per litre from the hapless citizens.
“Moreover, they are only giving Rs 1,000 worth of fuel to everyone. I just hope the government is able to overcome this problem sooner than soon,” he said.
Talking to Pakistan Today, sources in PSO said, “PSO is cash-strapped. State institutions owe Rs 222 billion to PSO. PSO has defaulted oil LCs worth Rs 48 billion. The increase in oil demand coupled with the decline in oil supply by oil marketing companies has led to the shortage of oil.”
According to the authorities, the supply of petrol would start to get better by Saturday or Sunday.
According to Finance Ministry sources, the government has issued PSO at least Rs 17.5 billion on emergency basis to contain the petrol shortage. Moreover, the PSO administration had asked the government to provide at least Rs 80 billion on immediate basis.
According to the sources, PSO owes at least Rs 215 billion to the power sector and other government institutions. The government is likely to provide more funds to PSO in the coming days.
A PSO spokesman said Thursday that shortage of petrol is temporary and the situation would improve within two days.
She said that due to decrease in the prices of petroleum products, its demand has increased from January 1, adding that monthly supply had reached 15,000 metric ton from 10,000 MT.
She further said that increase in the sale of petrol was witnessed after significant reduction in its price due to which PSO is facing temporary shortage in the existing fuel stock.
“Also, two oil refineries are not working in Punjab for the last week and their production has stopped,” she stated.
She said that additional supply is being arranged from Karachi to Lahore and Attock Oil Refinery has also extended its support, ensuring smooth flow of petroleum products.
She expressed the hope that immediate steps would improve the supply situation of petrol within two days and from Saturday onwards there will be no complaint of petrol shortage.