An open letter to Minister for Industries & Production


Barrister Arsalan Raja

AFTER the Bahawalpur oil truck explosion, that happened in 2017, in which nearly two hundred and fifty people died, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) introduced and enforced safety and technical standards for the trucks carrying more than 5000/- litres of petroleum products. As per the rules and statutory notification by the OGRA, the vehicle carrying petroleum products must have 360 Horsepower Engine. In the OGRA Report on the “oil truck accident at Bahawalpur”, it is was stated that one of the main reasons for the Bahawalpur oil tanker explosion was that the truck, which was carrying petroleum product, did not meet the set requirements of OGRA. It was further stated in the Report that such an accident could have been avoided if the truck was complied with the applicable safety laws and rules.
It is a matter of record that almost every truck selling & manufacturing companies in Pakistan were initially importing and manufacturing 280 Horsepower trucks however after the introduction and enforcement of new rules by the OGRA, almost all the truck selling and manufacturing companies in Pakistan fraudulently transformed their trucks, simply by changing the 280 Horsepower stickers in to 360 Horsepower stickers. Surprisingly, not a single document “Engine Performance Curves” or “Engine Report” was provided by these companies to confirm the change of Horse Powers in the trucks. It is worth mentioning that as per the OGRA’s rules, Oil Marketing Companies (OMC) are obliged to obtain “Engine Performance Curves” and “Engine Bench test” from the truck selling & manufacturing companies before using their trucks for the purpose of transportation of petroleum products. However OMCs in Pakistan are unfortunately not following this law in strict sense, which can result in another incident similar to Bahawalpur oil truck explosion.
Surprisingly, there is not a single bench test machine & facility in Pakistan to check the actual/authentic Horsepower of Japanese and Chinese trucks in Pakistan, consequently we have no other option but to believe the oral statements made by the distributors of Japanese and Chinese trucks in Pakistan. Astonishingly, the truck selling and manufacturing companies in Pakistan merely provide their “Company’s Letterhead”, which simply states, the fake & false Horsepowers of the trucks. These companies market their trucks as “OGRA Compliant Trucks” without providing any evidence of the Horsepower. Knowingly or unknowingly the OGRA is unaware of the aforesaid ongoing dangerous businesses practices. It is a duty of a truck selling and manufacturing companies to provide all the relevant documents (including “Performance Curves” and “Engine Bench Test”) to confirm the authentic Horsepower of the Truck’s Engine.
All the trucks selling and manufacturing companies in the world do provide “Engine Performance Curves” and “Engine Reports” in their brochures, to confirm the actual Horsepower of their trucks and these documents are considered as a public documents. As these documents fall under the purview of public importance matter, especially after the incident of Bahawalpur Oil truck explosion, accordingly every citizen of Pakistan is entitled for the aforementioned documents or evidences in terms of article 19-A of the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan.
The continuous deceptive marketing by the truck seller and manufacturers in Pakistan has a direct impact on the safety & security of the public at large. Ministry of Industries and Production, Oil and Gas Regularity Authority (OGRA) and Pakistan Engineering Development Board should be held directly responsible for any incident similar to Bahawalpur oil truck explosion, as it is in their domain to check the actual Horsepower of the trucks and accordingly issue fitness certificates.
—The writer is a Barrister and practices  law in Karachi.