CNG stations reopen in Karachi after govt restores gas supply


KARACHI: Gas stations in the provincial capital reopened on Saturday night after remaining closed for six days due to a crippling supply shortage in the province.

Addressing a press conference along with Sindh Governor Imran Ismail earlier in the day, Federal Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said, “Supply of gas to Karachi’s CNG sector will resume tonight at 8pm.” From Sunday on wards, the industries across Sindh will receive 50 per cent supply, moreover, maximum possible relief will be provided to the CNG sector in the coming days, the minister said.

“The current gas crisis occurred [due to some technical faults], it was not created. I came to Karachi on the instructions of the prime minister and held talks with all the stakeholders,” the petroleum minister explained.

On Tuesday, the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) had announced that it was stopping the supply of gas to the CNG sector and captive power plants as it was not getting the required pressure and amount of gas for distribution due to a technical fault being experienced at some gas fields.

Subsequently, Karachiites suffered a serious transport crisis on Wednesday when a majority of the public transport vehicles stayed off the roads because of suspension of gas supply to CNG stations by SSGC.

Owners of public transport who did bring their vehicles out on the roads despite the CNG closure charged hefty fares from people who had no option but to pay.

Transporters said that it was almost impossible for most of them to bring their vehicles on the roads after the SSGC’s announcement on Tuesday that the situation was unlikely to change in the days to come.

Apart from transporters, the Sindh government had also reacted strongly against the SSGC’s move and called it a violation of the Constitution.

“The SSGC move is against Article 158-B of the Constitution,” said Sindh Transport Minister Syed Owais Qadir Shah in a statement. “The federal government has no right to suspend supply to CNG stations in Sindh which produced the largest quantity of gas.”

Sindh Minister for Energy Imtiaz Shaikh had said the federal government’s decision to stop gas supply to the captive power plants in the province was bound to cause unemployment and stir an industrial crisis.

Shaikh said at an emergency press conference in his office that the federal government’s attitude towards Sindh, which contributed 70 per cent to the country’s total gas production, was tantamount to unleashing oppression on the people of the province.

The minister said that gas load shedding was a serious matter on which the prime minister had taken another U-turn. On Sunday, the premier had promised Karachi-based industrialists of an end to the load shedding but soon after, the supply to the captive power plants was stopped, creating a big crisis which would affect a number of factories, he added.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Imran Khan ordered that the boards of directors of the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) and SSGCL be dissolved owing to the prevailing gas shortfall in the country.

The premier had given directions for stricter action against the gas suppliers.

A day after ordering a fact-finding committee to launch an inquiry against the managing directors of both SNGPL and SSGCL, the federal government decided to reshuffle the companies’ boards of directors over purported poor performance. On the prime minister’s instructions, the boards of directors of both the companies were dissolved.