More than 90,000 liters of smuggled Iranian petrol is being sold daily in the city at over 800 illegal dumping stations situated in different parts of the city, it is reliably learnt.
According to details, around 580 dumping stations were being run by influential personalities in the government and law enforcement agencies seemed reluctant in taking action against the illegal business.
Due to rise in the prices of petroleum products, the sale of smuggled Iranian petrol was selling like hot cakes, causing losses of billions of rupees to the government exchequer.
The daily consumption of Iranian petrol had boomed up and provided a big share in the daily oil products consumption in Karachi. A major decline of 10,000 to 15,000 liters was recorded in the sale of daily consumption of locally produced petroleum products after the increase in petroleum products was made by the government, sources claimed.
The consumption of smuggled Iranian oil products was about 80,000 to 90,000 liters in Karachi in last year and had increased up to 15,000 liters per day, sources said and added that it may increase in the future due to increase in petroleum prices.
Despite huge losses of about 7 billion rupees per annum in tax revenue, the government was not taking interest to curb such illegal business, he said, while adding that “International donors like World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) has also warned government to stop illegal business in the interest of stake holders of this sector”.
The business of sale of smuggled Iranian petrol was getting a boost and transporters were playing their role as they were purchasing low cost Iranian petrol to increase their profit.
While Iranian products are harmful for the engine of the vehicles, the only advantage of smuggled Iranian oil products is their low rates. Iranian petrol is 25 to 35 rupees cheaper than the price of local petrol.
An increase of 4 rupees had been recorded in the price of Iranian petrol in Karachi and it had increased up to 78 rupees a liter in the last 24 hours.
Only a few months back, Iranian petrol had been selling at 800 dumping stations situated in Liaquatabad, Surjani Town, Baldia Town, Manghopir, Landhi, Orangi Town, Malir, Bin Qasim, Gulshan-e -Iqbal, Korangi, Lyari and other areas of the city.
Lyari was considered the main hub of smuggled petrol and distribution of smuggled petrol to other parts of the city was made from the area. More than 94 illegal dumping stations were present in Lyari Town.
Sources claimed that maximum dumping stations were being run by the government personalities, including ministers. The staff of the dumping points also offered home facility on higher rates. This illegal business had the shelter of law enforcement agencies.
It was also revealed that consumers of the smuggled products did not belonging to any specific class as persons from the posh areas were also regular costumers of the products.
A responsible person in the head office of a local bank, who was getting Iranian fuel for his car near Darul Sehat Hospital Gulistan e Jauhar said on anonymity that local petroleum products could not be afforded due to the high costs. Therefore he preferred Iranian petrol, he added.
A motorcyclist said that he always gave priority to Iranian petrol as compared to the local petrol because his pocket money did not permit him to pay for the expensive petrol.
“I m a student of Karachi University and my father is a laborer in Pakistan Railways. I belong to a middle class family where we spend even a single rupee after dozen of thoughts, so my pocket money cannot afford the petrol prices”, he said.
I don’t feel any hesitation in getting petrol because high ups in the government were said to be involved in this business and the open sale of smuggled petrol proved this, another customer at the illegal station said while talking to scribe.
He said while pointing out at a police mobile that police knew very well about such illegal stations but never tried to remove them.
Scores of meetings with Customs officials, FBR, Ministry of Petroleum and explosive department also proved fruitless, Abdul Sami Khan, Chairman Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association alleged.
“Sometimes the authorities become active but after a few days, the sale of smuggled products restarts with support of the police,” he said.
Dealers opined that adding strict checks at the Iran-Pakistan border as well as intra-provincial borders, effective police crackdown and full cooperation of Commissioner and DCO of various cities can control this menace.
He said that steps have been taken to stop the sale of smuggled products after a tragic incident in which two passenger coaches and a pick-up rammed into an overturned truck at RCD Highway near Hub that claimed lives of 36 people.
At least one coach and the truck were allegedly carrying oil smuggled from Iran.
Sami claimed that in the main hub of smuggled Irani petrol Balochistan, an area called Dasht has at least 100 such dabba stations and pumps with dispensers.
“I hope that clean-up of illegal sale spots of petroleum products will have a number of benefits,” he said.
By Moonis Ali, Weekly Pulse Magazine, March 31, 2014