Day Three: strike ends but city not back on track yet

On the third day of the strike by the officers of state-owned oil companies,fuel pumps across the tricity ran dry.

Written by Express News Service | Chandigarh | Published:January 10, 2009 1:10 am

On the third day of the strike by the officers of state-owned oil companies,fuel pumps across the tricity ran dry. The filling stations witnessed chaos as people jostled for fuel. On the other hand,the roads saw less traffic with most residents avoiding unnecessary trips. Commuters were at the receiving end with most autorickshaws refusing to leave the stands and the rest charging higher fares. With oil company officers calling off their strike later in the evening,the situation is expected to normalise on Saturday.

Pumps out of stock
The situation at the filling stations was worse than Thursday’s in tricity. The small number of pumps that were supplying fuel till Thursday,too,ran dry on Friday morning. Long queues stretching up to a few hundred metres could be seen at the pumps. By afternoon,only six of the ten-odd pumps of Hindustan Petroleum,which did not join the strike,had stocks left. “No pump can last for long in such crises,” said Amanpreet Singh,general secretary of the Chandigarh Petroleum Dealers Association.

Little relief as BP calls off strike
There was little improvement in the situation after Bharat Petroleum called off the strike in the evening. It only brought people out of their homes to the BP filling stations. These pumps too ran dry soon as the supply of petrol — there was no diesel on Friday — was inadequate. “We had ordered 12,000 litres of petrol but received only 4,000 litres. The next supply will reach tomorrow,” said Manpreet Waraich,manager at the Sector 17 petrol pump. There were strict orders from the Administration not to supply fuel in bottles or containers.

Less traffic on roads
The oil strike affected the traffic volume in the tricity as the residents preferred to stay indoors or opted for a ‘car-pool’. Even during the peak office hours,the travel distance that usually takes around half an hour could be covered in much less time.

Public transport,LPG not hit
The public transport system,including Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) and Haryana Roadways buses,was not affected by the strike. With a daily consumption of around 30,000 litres diesel,the 417 CTU buses running in the tricity has adequate stock for another two days. The Haryana Roadways had made arrangements with HP for the supply of diesel. LPG supply,too,remained normal. Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) officials at Chandigarh said the supply was sufficient for five more days.

Autorickshaws mint money
Autorickshaw drivers did a brisk business on Friday by charging more from the passengers. Some even demanded double the usual fares. “Even we have to cover our cost because we have bought fuel in black at higher prices,” one of them reasoned.

Normalcy likely by afternoon
With IOC officers,too,calling off their strike late in the evening,the situation is expected to be normal by Saturday afternoon. “The supply will start reaching the fuel stations in the morning. By afternoon,the situation will be under control,” said Amanpreet Singh.

Truckers’ strike enters 5th day
With the truckers’ strike continuing for the fifth consecutive day,the prices of essential commodities like pulses,vegetables and fruits spiralled in the tricity,affecting the common man. Industries in the region,too,are facing a tough time due to the disruption in the supply of raw material. The Railways was expected to gain from this strike,but it has not seen much profit either. “We are ready to increase the rakes of goods trains on demand. Also,the Northern Railways is ready to run extra goods trains on particular routes if there is demand. But not much change has been witnessed in the movement of the goods trains in the region,” said Divisional Railway Manager H K Jaggi.

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