Major breakdown at the main distributing point at Nainavaram adds to their woes
One thing is common at all the four gas stations supplying Compressed Natural Gas in and around the city. Serpentine queues of autorickshaws and restless faces of drivers are a regular feature.
CNG is undoubtedly a boon to the transport sector, but the dearth of it is making the lives of many miserable.
Though CNG is available at filling stations located at Ajithsingh Nagar, Bhavanipuram, Undavalli, and Ramavarappadu, the city requires additional bunks with more dispensers.
“Many a time, the autorickshaw drivers spend the entire night at the bunks just to fill four or five kg of gas. They eat, sleep, and wait as it is difficult for them to obtain CNG in the morning,” says CPI (M) leader Ch. Babu Rao.
The last few weeks have been more taxing for the drivers following a major breakdown at Nainavaram (Pamulakalava), the main distributing point that receives gas from the Gas Authority of India Limited, throwing the distribution system haywire.
“Power cut is also adding to our woes. As gas is available for just Rs.36, we have modified the vehicle to suit the requirements by spending a fortune. But, we need more stations to benefit from it regularly,” says Gangadhar, an autorickshaw driver.
The long hours spent at the filling stations has reduced the number of trips the usually make, affecting their income badly.
“As we spend more than five to six hours at the dispensing unit, we are unable to make more trips. Notwithstanding this, at the end of the day we must pay rent to the vehicle owners. We are unable to make both ends meet,” says Chitti Babu, a driver at Currency Nagar.
While this is so, there is a different problem at Undavalli filling station, which falls under Guntur district.
Mr. Babu Rao says the locals are objecting to drivers coming from the other side of the Krishna to fill gas at the station.
“Local drivers are demanding that they be given preference at the filling station. They are often seen entering into verbal duel with non-local drivers. It is unfortunate that scarcity of gas is leading to inter-district skirmishes,” he says. RTC buses too are thronging the private gas stations, as the exclusive point (for RTC) at Vidyadharapuram has developed a technical snag. “Owing to shortage of gas, RTC has cancelled some services, much to the discomfort of the passengers,” says Mr. Babu Rao.
P. Srinivas Rao, proprietor of Basaveswararao Gas Station at Ajithsingh Nagar, however, says a few more dispensers will be installed at the gas station to meet the requirements soon. “We will have three nozzles for autorickshaws and one for cars.”
Gopala Krishna, an advocate, who has bought a car with CNG facility, says: “It is becoming increasingly difficult to fill gas as it is available in only four bunks. All the four stations are in four different directions, and autorickshaws literally take over the bunks.”