Dozens of loaded tankers are still parked at Port Qasim owing to a continued protest by suppliers against the award of a contract to the National Logistic Cell to transport edible oil across the country, tanker owners said on Wednesday.
“There are dozens of loaded tankers standing for the last several days to move out of the port but the rival transport group protestors are disallowing the movement of supplies by force,” said spokesman for Ittefaq Oil Tankers and Owners and Contractors Welfare Association, Qayoom Mujahid. He said all supplies of edible oil had been suspended on October 4, this year as the opponent transporters are unwilling to let the oil supply go through the National Highway to different parts of the country.
“There is a protest camp which the rival group has set up at the Port Qasim turn, which has kidnapped a tanker of our member and beat up the driver. Men of the protesting group have also damaged the tankers going upcountry,” he alleged. He said that there was no security for the outgoing tankers at the seaport, which continues to discourage the strike-breakers to supply the commodity as there are also looming fears of shortage of ghee in the country.
“Despite complaints to the administration about the lack of security, there is no support from the government to the transporters who want to continue the supplies,” he said. He said that his association is also against the awarding of supplies contract to the NLC, but have opposed the idea of going on strike. He said that his association is ready to supply oil. Mujahid claimed his association has nearly 500 transporters who carry some 90 percent of oil of the total supplies. The rest, he said, is divided between the rival transport group and NLC, which is nearly 10 percent.
“Previously only 10-wheeled tankers were allowed to supply oil to upcountry ghee manufacturing units but now with the induction of NLC, the size of such tankers has increased to 22 wheeled-trailers,” he said. He said that the contract which had been awarded to the NLC was feared to have deprived the existing private sector tankers of their jobs. He said such fears have made the transporters protest against the move.
There are 1800 tankers of the private sector which are tasked to supply oil, which also supply oil to Kabul besides different cities of Pakistan. The spokesman said that the suspension of supplies is aimed to increase the ghee prices artificially and will create food chaos in the country. He said that protestors are freely interrupting the supplies on the main road.
He denied that there is any attempt by the protesting transporters to compel the management to increase the transportation fares for supplying oil. “We are not demanding an increase in the transport charges and are ready to resume supplies if the government provides us with security,” he said.