Tanker stir may make wait for LPG longer

An indefinite strike by LPG tankers from Wednesday midnight may worsen the already slow supply of cylinders to domestic consumers in Bangalore and across the State.

With the existing stock of LPG expected to be exhausted in a few days, consumers will be left scouting for cylinders, as the South Zone Motor Transporters’ Welfare Association, representing LPG tankers, is in no mood to withdraw its strike.

But the problem of not getting their cylinders is not new for Bangaloreans.  Shridhara, a resident of HSR Layout, said: “There has been a problem for the last few months. I book the cylinder but never get it delivered. We have been eating out for the last few weeks as we do not have an additional cylinder.”

And worse, an automatically generated message was forwarded to him that the cylinder had been delivered to him, while he still testifies to the contrary.

Shridhara is not alone in this battle citizens are finding impossible to win. Padma, a resident of Thippasandra, has had similar experiences.

“The worst is when these agents behave rudely with me. I book the cylinder through my mobile. I get a conformation message and then I wait for close to a month in vain. But the agent does not even have two minutes to listen to the problem,” she said.

Consumers have already started feeling the heat when a distributor of Indane Domestic Gas in Rajajinagar stopped taking bookings.

“The LPG stock normally arrives in the morning and we finish the distribution of cylinders by evening, we do not have any stock with us at present.  There are 5,500 consumers waiting for refill,” said Naveen from Benaka Enterprises.

However, Aarthi, a housewife, says even though distributors have cylinder stocks, they would rather sell them to hotels than to households.

“There is already a delay of 15-20 days; if the strike goes on indefinitely, there is no chance households will ever get their refill cylinders. The distributor would prefer to sell to hotels for a higher price than distribute to households,” she added.

But another distributor from JP Nagar said that ever since the agitation of LPG tankers’ started in January, distributors were not receiving the supply on time.

 “It is not clear what will happen to the distribution system after the strike begins.  We normally take 17 days from the date of booking to deliver cylinders to consumers; but we do not have any stock for any further distribution,” said a distributor from Sheela Agencies.

Trucker input
Holding all the four southern states to ransom, LPG tankers are already off the roads.
According to G R Shanmugappa, general secretary, South Zone Motor Transport Welfare Association, the strike won’t be revoked until the oil companies resolve the persistent issues.

“The 300 tonnes of LPG available will be exhausted within the next three days. It will create problems for consumers. But what can we do,” he asked.

Shanmugappa said truckers were already losing Rs 0.50 per kg per km ferrying the LPG from various ports across South India.

“From Chennai to Managalore and Shimoga, all trucks have parked their vehicles on the side and have joined the strike,” he said. As many as 3,600 trucks currently ferry LPG in South India.  Three hundred trucks supply LPG to Bangalore daily. Lorries that have gone on strike are the 10,000-tonne bullet transport vehicles.

Truckers have demanded a new fare which will provide them Rs 3 per kg per km of LPG on transportation.

“With toll rates increasing and fuel costs rising, it is absolutely impossible to work on old rates,” he said.

On January 12 this year, truckers went on strike for five days, following which oil companies struck a deal with the lorry associations.  However, lorry owners’ association claims that the oil companies failed to adhere to the treaty they had signed with them.

“We had given them a notice that if by February 29, the issue of fixing new rates and giving all the 3,600 trucks loads is not resolved, then we will go on an indefinite strike. They are yet to come to the table for any talks,” he said.

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