LAHORE - The fourth day of persisting worst fuel shortage even brought more mess and panic among millions of commuters across Punjab including the provincial capital where almost all filling stations were closed for fuel sale.

The concerned ministry and the marketing companies are as usual silent on the issue. Some insiders claim that the government intentionally avoided arranging funds for the PSO and waited the prices to come down in international market. Thus, by placing late purchase orders in international market, the ‘genius’ policy makers saved billions of rupees mere at cost of ‘little sacrifices of the poor people.’

The prices of fuel came down in international market on Wednesday and it would take a week or so to reach cheap oil consignments in Pakistan, claimed sources and thus the situation might take another three to four days to be normal.

On the other side, the worst fuel shortage continued in Lahore and other cities of Punjab on 4th consecutive day. Some petrol pumps in Lahore run under PSO played hide and seek with commuters by opening outlets for half hour and again shut down for long hours.

Hundreds of motorbikes and cars were seen in queues at some petrol stations which resumed sale for two to three hours in patches during last 24 hours. People were seen holding gallons and bottles in queues at petrol pumps to get some fuel for movement.

Till Thursday, Lahore, Sheikhupura, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Jehlum and Rawalpindi-Islamabad are the main effected cities, however, the crisis spread all over the province on Friday.

Transporters and commuters are most suffering as a result of a drastic slash in the supply. The petrol sale continued in black at some locations at price between Rs200 to Rs250 per litre. The CNG is already unavailable in the province due on SNGPL’s winter load management plan.

In Lahore, only LTC owned public transport was provided gas on daily basis while the other transport runs on petrol or LPG. The shortage of petrol caused 40 per cent of city’s transport off-road which triggered the problems of commuters who already living in the city facing severe scarcity of public transport.  Lahore roads were presenting almost a deserted look on 9pm.

Around 80 per cent of more than 100,000 motorcycle rickshaws which play an important role to meet the demand of commuters were also off-road in Lahore while the available three-wheeler including auto rickshaws charged double and triple fare from the passengers.  

The petroleum dealers’ association representative said the PSO and petroleum companies had reduced more than 80 per cent fuel supply to filling stations in big cities of Punjab. He said that around 350 filling stations of the city need 2.5 million litres per day fuel to meet the demand of vehicles against the present supply of less than half million litres.