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Nato tanker operators await green signal
Publication Date : 18-05-2012
Drivers of Nato oil tankers are eagerly awaiting official announcement for resumption of supplies to Afghanistan for Nato forces, but some of them are not hopeful after government’s twisting statements.
“We are all set to take oil to Afghanistan,” drivers and helpers told Dawn on Thursday at Shireen Jinnah Colony, where hundreds of oil tankers are parked for the last six months.
“We cannot wait any further as many of us have become defaulters while others continue to take more credit to meet their daily expenditures,” they said.
However, some operators of oil tankers are not hopeful saying that the government is dilly-dallying and may take more time.
Pakistan closed down all the supply lines for the Afghan war effort following Nato air strike killing 24 Pakistani soldiers in November 2011.
Commenting on media reports of resumption of Nato supplies, a driver Iraz Khan said nothing was important to us at this time than the final decision regarding re-opening of supply to Afghanistan.
“Re-opening of oil supplies will also bring normalcy in our livelihood. Some times we do not have money to buy one-time meal,” he lamented.
Most of the drivers and helpers have been borrowing to meet expenses of their families living in the upcountry.
These operators of Nato oil tankers belong to every part of the country but majority hail from Landi Kotal, Khyber Agency, Mianwali, Shinwari etc.
Another driver Imtiaz Khan requested the government to settle the issue now as any further delay would make their lives more miserable.
“Many of us are borrowing money from oil tanker owners, but how long they can take care of our sufferings?” he asked.
Some owners have been extending monthly loan of 5,000 rupees (US$55) to their drivers and helpers since December 2011,” he added.
“Many oil tanker owners under some compulsion have sold out their spare wheels, wheel rim, batteries and other parts and accessories,” claimed many drivers.
Abid Khan, another driver, said some of his companions were making little money by driving private vehicles of their oil tanker owners.
“But this is a short-term solution and most of the drivers are interested to take fuel supply for Nato forces in Afghanistan on a long-term basis to earn livelihood for their families,” he added.
However, the residents of Sea View Road are facing multiple problems due to parking of these oil tankers and have been urging the police to remove these vehicles to avoid any untoward incident or law and order situation, but the law enforcers appear helpless.
Drivers and helpers give a mixed response about the salary and per trip money they used to get in taking tanker to the neighbouring country.
Abid Khan said that 15,000 rupees ($165.02) per month is fixed as a salary while the drivers also get 10,000 ($110.01) for a trip in a month.
For helpers, 7,000 rupees ($77) is a fixed salary while they get 5,000 rupees ($55.01) on a trip.
Another driver said he used to get 15,000 rupees ($165.02) as a salary but almost same amount extra on a trip. Another driver contested saying he gets 12,000 rupees ($132.01) per month and 6,000 rupees ($66) for a trip.
Some of them said that many tanker owners run their vehicles by carrying two drivers and one helper.
They also give different views in giving actual number of tankers parked at the Sea View Road. The number runs from 1,500 to 2,500 and hardly any oil tanker has moved since December 2011.
Oil tankers vehicles have the capacity of 44,000-66,000 litres of jet fuel. They said 90 per cent of jet fuel was being supplied to Nato forces while the share of diesel was 10 per cent. They also claimed that almost all the parked tankers are empty.