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Petrol pumps bounce back in Kochi, go dry in other places

Our Bureau

The signboard outside a petrol outlet in Kochi points to the precarious situation prevailing in the State. - K.K. Mustafah

Kochi , July 17

MOVEMENT of petroleum products in and around Kochi improved on Thursday afternoon despite the lorry operators' strike, which entered the third day on Thursday.

However, the inter-district transportation of petrol and diesel from the installation units in Kochi has been significantly affected due to blockade at several places by the striking truckers. Incidents of stone-throwing on tankers were reported from various parts outside the district. Senior officials of the three major oil companies said that most of the tankers are plying with police escort.

A senior official of the Indian Oil Corporation, a major supplier in the State, said that supply of petroleum products improved in and around Kochi on Thursday compared with the previous day. Against four trucks deployed for supplying on Wednesday, the company had sent the products in around 25 trucks on Thursday.

More dealers are coming forward with their tankers to move products and the situation is likely to improve further by Friday. IOC had also supplied two loads to the two petrol pumps owned by the Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation in Kochi city.

The supply from Bharat Petroleum Corporation has also improved significantly as it was able to despatch products in more than 20 tankers in the city and the suburbs. The BPCL officials confirmed that inter-district movement of tankers was affected, as most of the tanker owners were reluctant to ply their vehicles due to the threat from the strikers. The temporary scarcity for petroleum products in the city is due to the panic buying resorted to by consumers, a senior official at BPCL said.

However, the movement of goods from Hindustan Petroleum was only skeletal on Thursday as it was able to supply only eight loads in and around Kochi through their four tankers till afternoon. The officials had also made arrangements to bring in more tankers by Friday to cater to the demand.

The ongoing strike has also affected the port operations, bringing the movement of containers to a grinding halt. Loading and discharge of containers are in full swing in the gantry berth. So far there has not been any congestion owing to the non-movement of boxes as the port officials had made the arrangements to shift boxes to vacant spaces available in the area.

Our Thiruvananthapuram Bureau adds: With supplies of petrol and diesel failing to arrive on account of the truckers' strike, long queues were witnessed outside petrol bunks in the city.

Many motorists resorted to panic buying from the evening of July 16, following an announcement by the All-Kerala Association of Petroleum Traders that fuel stocks in the State's petrol stations would soon be exhausted.

The availability of petroleum products in the city was seriously affected, with many petrol bunks going dry. While some bunks did receive limited stocks of fuel today, the situation is likely to become more serious in a day or two, sources said.

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