The Southern Regional Bulk LPG Transport Owners’ Association has decided to launch indefinite strike from Monday (February 12) to protest against the revised tender rules on hiring the tankers.
The association demanded that the regional-level tender for fixing the hire charges for LPG tankers, which had been the practice for three decades, should continue. Under the new norms, the Centre floated State-level tenders in January.
A decision to this effect was taken at the general body meeting of the association here on Saturday.
Under the new system, the tanker owners could participate in the tender only in their respective States and they could not operate their vehicles in other States. The Petroleum Minister said priority would be given to tankers of the respective States. Association president M. Ponnambalam told presspersons that the existing contracts expired on October 31, 2017.
The association had urged the oil marketing companies to continue with the old system of floating tenders. But on January 23, the oil marketing companies floated tenders under the new system for five years from September 2018 to August 2023. The tenders would be finalised on March 12 and the tanker owners had to apply for the same online.
Preference would be given to to 21-tonne capacity tankers of the respective States while fixing the tender. In Tamil Nadu, only 20% of the fleet of 7,500 tankers was of 21 tonne capacity. The rest was 18 tonne capacity and owners of these vehicles were likely to lose out. As many of them have taken loans for the tankers, they would be hit hard, he said.
The association had members from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana and Kerala and the Union Territory of Puducherry and the tankers owned by them move fuel and gas of the three oil marketing companies to various parts of the country. As the new system would affect the livelihood of a large number of tanker owners, the association decided to launch an indefinite strike, he added.