The All Pakistan Oil Tankers Association on Monday announced a countrywide strike to protest against the revised safety regulations for oil tankers announced by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) in the wake of the Ahmedpur Sharqia incident, which led to the death of 218 individuals.
The supply of petroleum products across the country is likely to be affected by the strike, as the movement of nearly 23,000 oil tankers in the country has been halted.
The strike comes days after Ogra had estimated that around 85 per cent of oil tankers do not comply with prescribed standards and fined Shell Pakistan Limited for failing to meet the standards.
The action came in the aftermath of the Ahmedpur Sharqia incident which had resulted in the deaths of 218 individuals.
Ogra had hired the services of two separate third-party inspection companies to ascertain whether the oil market company (OMC) had complied with the 2009 Ogra technical standards for the transportation of petrol and to identify the reasons for the tragic accident in Ahmedpur.
Sources said that the ill-fated tanker did not even meet safety and transportation standards of the company itself, let alone Ogra’s 2009 technical standards for road transport vehicles. The oil industry, on the other hand, has started lobbying against any punitive action in view of bleak compliance standards.
The industry is pushing for a grace period of up to two years to allow tanker lorries and OMCs to comply with regulatory standards and is sending out signals suggesting that extreme steps like a ban on non-compliant tankers would lead to product dry-outs.
A strike by oil tanker owners earlier this year had caused a great deal of public inconvenience, especially in Karachi where long queues of motorists and bikers were seen outside many petrol stations.