Oil tankers call off strike following talks with Govt


People heave sigh of relief

Zahid Chaudhary


All Pakistan Oil Tankers Association on Wednesday called off their strike after successful negotiations with the government, thus resuming the supplies to the petrol pumps.
The government’s side was headed by Petroleum Secretary Sikandar Sultan Raja while APOTA Chairman Yousaf Shawani was leading the oil tankers’ Association.
Addressing the media later, OGRA spokesperson Imran Ghaznavi said they ensure their rules are adhered to, adding that they will give a timeline to the oil tanker owners to implement the safety rules.
He said the OGRA will hold discussion with the oil industry in the coming week to review the technical standards 2009 under clause 5 of the said standards to remove the difficulties being faced by the industry to implement the regulations. He said the OGRA will also ensure that the oil marketing companies ensure uninterrupted supply of petroleum products to the consumers.
The APOTA, along with other oil tankers associations, had been protesting against government regulations and police corruption for three consecutive days making fuel almost impossible to obtain across the country. The owners, however, reluctantly agreed to call off the three-day strike with the condition that the government will solve their pending issues within 15 days from today or face a stand-off between them and the government.
Some 35,000-40,000 tankers had been parked in different parts of the country during the strike.
The strike, which started on Monday, was cause for much distress and began at the same time as the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) directed oil transporters to meet the safety and quality guidelines introduced in 2009, maintaining that eight years was ample time for them to meet the requirements.
This directive, however, was not met with encouragement. The oil tankers’ operators stated that their strike would continue until their demands were met and refused to follow safety standards introduced in 2009.
On Tuesday, the full-effect of their strike was felt when a meeting among stakeholders failed to yield the desired results, leading to supplies being suspended leaving fuel stations with empty inventories.
Long queues were also seen in the early half of the day, with many stations reportedly shutting down due to fuel shortage, indicating that the regulator was going to face a difficult time implementing the guidelines.
The National Highway Authority is also among the authorities implementing the regulations as it checks safety standards in oil tankers transporting the flammable commodity from Karachi port.
The enforcement of safety guidelines gathered pace after an oil tanker toppled in Ahmedpur Sharqia leading to the death of over 200 people. Shell Pakistan Limited, the company to which the tanker belonged, has already paid a fine and compensation of Rs258 million following the incident.

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