The sudden shutdown of the Malom Oil Depot in Manipur triggered a frenzy of panic buying among residents, resulting in extensive queues at petrol pumps across the valley districts on Wednesday.
Some four-wheeler queues stretched to nearly 200 meters, with drivers waiting for up to an hour to refuel their vehicles.
This crisis was initiated by the decision of the All Manipur Petroleum Products Driver Association (AMPPDA) to halt operations at the only oil depot in the state.
The move came in response to an attack by unknown assailants on a convoy of loaded oil tankers along National Highway 37 in the Nungba area on Monday night.
On the fateful day at around 8.30 pm, unidentified assailants opened fire on two oil tankers with registration numbers AS01-GC-3847 and AS25-BC-5299 as they were en route to Imphal.
Aside from the bullet-riddled tankers, several other vehicles in the convoy were vandalised, and some drivers assaulted during the attack.
As per sources, transporters and drivers are now grappling with an additional financial burden as they are being compelled to pay illegal taxes of Rs 4,000 to Rs 4,500 for every trip.
In a statement released by AMPPDA, the shutdown of the oil depot will persist until a responsible caretaker comes forward with a comprehensive plan, as the security concerns remain unresolved.
Petrol pump workers have also expressed concerns that their stock will run out if panic buying continues.
In response to this situation, petrol is being sold on the black market at significantly inflated prices, providing an alternative for those who are unwilling to endure the long queues at most petrol pumps.
The current situation in Manipur underscores the urgent need for a resolution to the security issues plaguing the transportation of petroleum products in the region, as the impact of the crisis continue to ripple through the community.
Meanwhile, ‘Dealers of Retail outlets (Petrol Pumps) in Manipur’ announced to close all retail outlets (Petrol Pumps) on Friday as a mark of showing solidarity and support to the ongoing strike of Petrol Pumps in the state.
A press note issued by dealers of ROs (Petrol Pumps) in Manipur mentioned that a meeting of the Dealers of Retail Outlets (Petrol Pumps) in Manipur was held on Wednesday at Hotel Nirmala to discuss the extortion, physical assaults and life threatening attacks by firing faced by the drivers of the Petroleum Product Transporters on the Imphal Silchar Highway.
As a mark of solidarity and support to their ongoing protest/strike, all the petrol pumps in Manipur shall remain closed on Friday.
Further, the members presented their difficulties in the running of petrol pumps due to various monetary demands, donations and several negative factors prevailing in the state.
Sale of petrol and diesel by the pumps has already reduced to less than a half of the sales before the May 3 due to bandhs, curfews imposed by the government, blockades, and non-movement of vehicles between Churachandpur, Moreh, Kangpokpi and other places in the hills. The expenses of the pumps are also increasing due to the present negative circumstances in the state.
The dealers hereby appealed to the state government to take steps to bring peace and harmony in the state to enable them to serve the people of the state in the best possible manner