City-zens had a tense day on Monday with almost all petrol pumps in the district remaining closed in response to a one-day token strike call issued by the All-Kerala Federation of Petroleum Traders raising a set of demands, including an increase in dealership commission, while the few government-owned Civil Supplies pumps that were open witnessed a mad rush of motorists.
The staff at the Civil Supplies petrol filling stations at Statue, Vellayambalam, Ulloor and Vazhuthacaud found it hard to serve the long queue of vehicles that jostled for their turn to refill their tanks. Police personnel were posted to regulate the crowd. Many motor bikes and autorickshaw drivers had to wait for hours on end. People even formed long queues to collect fuel in bottles.
Motorists had thronged petrol bunks in the city from Sunday evening itself following the call given by the petrol traders’ federation to observe a 24-hour strike. Some of the petrol pumps were closed by Sunday evening itself, sparking off panic among motorists, who waited patiently in long queues at the remaining pumps for getting their fuel tanks filled. The huge rush at the bunks created further panic among motorists as they wondered for how many days the pumps would remain closed.
On Sunday, many of the pumps had run out of diesel by 6 pm. An additional reason for this was that the vehicles which carried BJP activists from various parts of the state to the city in connection with the rally addressed by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had filled their tanks from the city pumps before their return.
The Traffic Police also had a tough time managing the vehicles that formed a long queue, causing a traffic block on the Vazhuthacaud Road. Moreover, the city roads on Monday were already choked, thanks to the ongoing Pongala festival at Attukal Bhagavathy Temple. The traffic bottleneck on the Vellayambalam Road was eased only late in the evening, when the striking petrol stations elsewhere in the city reopened.
KSRTC buses were not affected owing to the 24-hour petrol pump strike. According to KSRTC executive director(operations) all the buses had been fully filled on Sunday itself. “With full tank fuel a bus can run for two days,” he said.