• Monday, Jan 20, 2020
  • Last Update : 01:16 pm

Petrol pump owners’ strike halts oil supply in 3 divisions

petrol pump strike
Bikers wait in front of a filling station in Rajshahi on Saturday, November 30, 2019 Dhaka Tribune

The petrol pump owners began the strike on Sunday morning

Fuel supply in Rajshahi, Khulna, and Rangpur divisions has come to a standstill with petrol pump owners going on an indefinite strike to press home a 15 point demand.

Petrol pump owners began their strike on Sunday morning upon a decision of Rajshahi, Rangpur, and Khulna Divisional committees of the Bangladesh Petrol Pump and Tank Lorry Malik-Sramik Oikya Parishad.

Around 26 petrol pumps in Natore were shut down due to the strike, causing severe problems for vehicle owners. Under these circumstances, traffic on the roads has also declined.

The shutdown of petrol pumps has led to a fuel crisis in Rangpur division. Interdistrict supplies and supply of fuel to buses that operate between Rangpur and Dhaka, came to a halt due to the strike.

All of the petrol pumps in Rajshahi division were quite crowded on Saturday night, following the declaration of this strike.

Owner of Bengal Travels, Khalid Ebadullah, who went to Rajshahi town's Afrin Filling Station to get fuel, said people crowded the filling stations since morning for fuel since the announcement of the strike.

Bangladesh Petrol Pump Owners’ Association's Rajshahi Division General Secretary Rafikul Islam told Dhaka Tribune: "The protest initially began from Khulna division and gradually spread out to Rajshahi and Rangpur. Today, around 500 petrol pump owners of these two divisions joined the strike.

"If our demands are not met, drivers of CNG-run auto rickshaws will also join us, and gradually it will become a nationwide protest."

15-point demands pressed by Bangladesh Petrol Pump Owners' Association | Dhaka Tribune

He said that they will continue demonstrating until their demands are met.

Bangladesh Petrol Pump Owners’ Association's Rangpur Division Vice President Abul Majed said: "We have urged the government previously to raise the commission for selling fuel as well as to increase the rent for tank lorries, but our demands were not carried out even after government assurances to that effect.

"As a result, we were forced to call this indefinite strike. We will not withdraw it until all our demands are met."

On November 26, the association's leaders gave an ultimatum to meet their 15 point demand by November 30.

Their demands include payment of 7.5% commission for selling fuel, introduction of accident insurance of Tk5 lakh for tank lorry workers, increasing fares for tank lorries, stopping police harassment and extortion, and dismissing the order to collect licenses for pumps from the Department of Environment. 

Several petrol pump owners said they can hardly make al profit after paying workers their due wages, because of the nominally small commission they receive.

Customers are also distressed by the sudden strike as they have been forced to buy fuel at a higher price from retailers.

MP denied fuel in Thakurgaon

Workers of Chowdhury Filling Station in Thakurgaon refused to fill the tanks of two cars of Awami League Presidium Member Ramesh Chandra Sen, MP.

The Thakurgaon 1 constituency MP went to the filling station on his way to Dhaka after visiting his area.

Regarding this incident, Thakurgaon District President of Bangladesh Petrol Pump Owners’ Association, Enamul Haque, said the owners would continue their strike until the government meets their 15 point demand.