Karachi: Pakistan faces an acute shortage of natural gas this winter, and several areas in Karachi experienced cutting back on gas supplies, sparking angry protests across the city.
The demonstrations came on Friday as Federal Energy Minister Hammad Azhar said the government was not going to supply imported Liquid National Gas (LNG) to domestic consumers who pay lower rates.
The Minister also said that efforts are being made to improve the supply of gas in the system.
Addressing a news conference in Islamabad, he said the Sui Southern Gas and Sui Northern Gas companies have been directed to better manage the gas supply.
The minister said gas demand increases in the winter, and the supply of gas to domestic consumers is preferred in this season.
He said the gas reserves in the country decreased by nine per cent every year whereas the demand has been on the rise.
The reaction came after officials and workers of the Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) association carried out a protest outside the head office of SSGC in Karachi against the prolonged gas supply suspension.
The protesters chanted slogans against the government and expressed their determination to continue their sit-in till the restoration of gas supply to the pumps.
They said that they are being provided gas at expensive rates in the name of so-called Re-Gasified Liquefied Natural Gas (RLNG). They also demanded the removal of the managing director (MD) of SSGC.
On Friday, massive protests were witnessed across Karachi. Dozens of residents of Mehmoodabad and Bazarta Lines staged a demonstration at the Main Korangi Road at the National Medical Centre and blocked vehicular traffic.
Teams of law enforcement agencies tried to remove the protesters from the road, but they gathered at another location.
In another protest, residents from the Keamari area marched to the Jinnah Bridge and blocked vehicular traffic. The demonstration was led by Pakistan Peoples Party MNA Abdul Qadir Patel.
Traffic police officials put the number of protesters between 800 and 1,000.
A third protest that began outside the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) head office at the Civic Centre Karachi two days back turned violent on Friday.
The protesters, most of whom operate CNG stations in the city, blocking the traffic and also closed the main gate of the SSGC head office, preventing the company employees from leaving.
The protesters have set up a camp outside the SSGC office and have been repeatedly returning to the main road to disrupt traffic flow.
The government has closed CNG stations until mid-February due to the unavailability of gas.