KARACHI: As per sources, the All Pakistan Oil Tankers Association (APOTA) is expected to end protest as negotiations between the government and the association have made progress. An official announcement for the strike call off is likely shortly.

Earlier during the day, the country appeared to be heading towards a severe fuel shortage as fuel stations across major cities of the country including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Quetta were unable to meet the rising demand due to lack of supply.

Wherever the fuel stations were functioning, long queues of commuters can be witnessed.

Fuel stations countrywide have been affected as a result of supply being completely halted due to All Pakistan Oil Tankers Association (APOTA) protesting against the government’s ‘unfair’ practices and undue regulations.

The protest was launched on Monday against the safety regulations of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) as well as against the penalties levied by Motorway police, APOTA Chairperson Yousaf Shahwani is reported to have said.

The owners of oil tankers pay three months advance tax to the government, but it fails to provide them with any relief. OGRA and Motorway police are treating them unfairly, making the situation worse, he said.

Moreover, the patrolling police are harassing the oil tanker owners in Punjab, and in Sindh, the excise police extort them, Shahwani informed.

In addition, OGRA will start checking the tankers being used by oil marketing companies. According to sources, it is feared many oil tankers may fail the quality criteria.

The matters of oil tankers have been delegated to OGRA with all decisions being decided behind closed doors without any consultations, Shahwani added.

The association members had decided to halt the supply of oil to fuel stations in protest for an indefinite period until their demands are met.

OGRA had decided to implement the safety rules after the oil tanker incident in Ahmedpur East, which claimed lives of over 200 people.

After unsuccessful negotiations for the first two days, the petroleum secretary assured that negotiations with the association are likely to reach a meaningful conclusion on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique has offered to transport fuel using cargo trains countrywide.

APOTA has refused to comply with government orders regarding the use of substandard and unsafe vehicles for the transportation of fuel.