Wholesalers of oxygen cylinders in Karachi have refuted reports of prices shooting up in the past few days amid in a rise in demand due to the surge in coronavirus cases.
According to a wholesaler from the Lucky Star market, oxygen re-filling rates are steady at Rs80-90 per litre.
The wholesalers said that a 10-litre brand new cylinder costs about Rs14,000.
They said some profiteers were spreading rumours so as to justify a price hike, adding that there had been no strain on oxygen supplies either.
“We have an abundance of oxygen in supply. In fact, big companies are working in two shifts instead of three,” said one wholesaler.
Today’s denial by wholesalers of oxygen prices shooting up follows reports on Sunday that the price of a five litre oxygen cylinder has gone up by Rs2,000-4,000 in Karachi.
Additionally, on Saturday, in a joint statement, manufacturers said that they are currently producing oxygen at their maximum capacity and if coronavirus cases continue to rise, the situation could turn similar to that in India, where a shortage of the vital gas has triggered a serious public health crisis.
They noted that most of the oxygen’s domestic production remains allocated to the health sector and that if all plants produce oxygen at full capacity, they can meet the needs of the health sector.
They also demanded uninterrupted electricity supply for their plants.
Minister for Planning Asad Umar has already gone on the record to state that Pakistan is currently utilising 90% of its total gas production and the country may face a shortage if the situation is not controlled.
“We are working to enhance capacity and will import the gas if needed,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Punjab, a ban has been imposed on the hoarding of oxygen cylinders and related items.
According to a notification by the Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department, the ban goes into effect immediately and will remain in effect for the next two months.
It will henceforth be a crime to hoard oxygen cylinders, oxymeters, regulators, nasal cannula and anyone found profiteering over such emergency equipment will be prosecuted under the law.
Secretary Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department Sara Aslam has called upon all charitable spirits to donate oxygen cylinders and other equipment and help the government in this challenging time.