Transportation safety

Hafsa Razzaq

In a recent incident in Ahmedpur East near Bahawalpur on June 25 an oil tanker overturned, due to the failure in adhering to safeguards more than 200 lives were lost. The investigation report exposed not only lack of training of drivers but the lack of implementation of present safety regulations on vehicle conformity. Alongwith traffic emergency response, these were important factors to consider and learn from. Contrary to the basic standards of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA), the vehicle contracted to Shell Pakistan was found to be overloaded, making the tanker unstable. The tanker moreover did not meet the National Highway Safety Ordinance (NHSO) 2000 requirement of 5-6 axle for a 50,000 L oil tanker, as it had only 4 axles. Outsourcing of critical functionality without check and monitory to operators that are inefficient can increase risk and liability. Unless the contracting company has adequate safe guards and monitoring thereof.
In the last three decades the financial sector in Pakistan has seen strides in various aspects of the Cash Cycle vis-à-vis the management of cash, and its transportation. Previously being undertaken by the financial institutions themselves these functions are now outsourced to professional security companies. All these companies operate in an unregulated environment resulting in losses and inefficiency. Moreover, with respect to a function as risky as transporting cash and valuables, the regulators does not having proper rules and regulations in place to deter against abuses and possible attacks which may result in loss of lives.
Different states and unions all over the world use comprehensive security systems to minimize risk and ensure secure and timely delivery of high value assets. The rules associated with entities practicing such escorts are termed in the security industry as Cash-In-Transit (CIT) regulations. These regulations describe the principles for fulfilment of obligations and quality standards by a private security company towards financial institutions and other transacting partners. Effective regulation of asset transport industry and specifically the CIT industry can have a positive impact in a high risk market like Pakistan.
In Europe and other developed regions, the security service provider, usually through a contract agrees to terms and conditions regarding nature of duties. Transfer of cash is allowed in soft-skinned (non-armoured) vehicles only when security methods like Intelligent Banknote Neutralization Systems (IBNS) are in place. In Pakistan some courier companies are transporting cash without being regulated by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).
The All Pakistan Security Agencies Association (APSAA) has issued an advisory to its member private security companies to simply refrain from providing services in soft-skinned vehicles to money changers because of additional risk associated with handling money. The policy outlined by the SBP deems necessary the availability of proper armoured vehicles for transportation of sums exceeding Rs. 5 million. There are about 1600 cash vans being operated by five CIT specializing companies in Pakistan. Two of these six enterprises (1000 vehicles) have a majority of their fleet as fully “armoured” cash vans, the four other companies having 600 vehicles all transport cash in “semi-armoured” vehicles. Semi-armoured vehicles are not universally defined and are not suited for transport of cash and assets. Proper guidelines and baseline standards must be implemented by the SBP to assure safety of the employees involved in private security, the public and the assets that are being transacted. In Pakistan, some sectors lack proper rules and regulations as well as guidelines. However wherever these are the necessary the lack of implementation is glaring, a case of benign neglect. Lack of effective security in cash vehicles endangers valuables and is a threat to lives and limbs of security guards and drivers handling the consignments.

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