COMMUTERS of black-and-yellow taxis and auto-rickshaws had a long wait on Tuesday when operations stopped at some Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) stations across Mumbai due to internal issues among the operators. According to Mahanagar Gas Ltd officials, operators at some stations were threatened against working in the morning hours on Tuesday till demands for a salary hike were met. To continue smooth operations, police protection needed to be called in at some stations.
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“A group of antisocial elements has since morning of 20th December 2016 forcibly stopped operations of nearly 90 CNG stations spread across Mumbai. MGL was able to start operations of nearly 50 CNG stations through its internal resources and police help. However, the group of antisocial elements is continuously intimidating MGL employees from operating the station. This has led to disruption of dispensation of CNG to customers,” an official statement from MGL read.
MGL operators are required as CNG attendants at the fuel stations as they are equipped with the knowledge and training on how to dispense the fuel. Without their presence at some pumps, CNG could not be dispensed leading to long queues of cars and taxis at the stations.
“I waited for almost three hours to refill my CNG tank at a fuel station in Mulund as there were many who were waiting ahead of me. Until help was received by fuel station officials, operations did not proceed. My earnings for the day were affected,” said a taxi driver.
“Many petrol pumps in the city could not dispense CNG for almost six hours in the morning. MGL had to send their engineers at various spots to help those waiting to get fuel. The situation was normalised by noon,” said Chetan Modi, secretary, Petrol Dealers’ Association, Mumbai.
Last month, certain worker unions representing MGL employees had asked for a hike in salaries failing which they had threatened a strike. However, when inquired with the employee unions, none had agreed to be party to the strike.
“Almost 20-30% of our taxis remained off roads due to the CNG strike. As many of them had already filled their tanks last night, they could continue operations today,” said AL Quadros, taxi union leader. “The police have agreed to support us with their help to continue operations. We sense it would not be a problem to continue operations hereon as everything is under control now,” an official spokesperson from MGL said.