Who is responsible on oil tanker blast in Shahdra Chowk, Near Lahore

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BARRISTER ARSALAN RAJA

AFTER the Bahawalpur oil truck ex plosion, that happened in 2017, in which nearly two hundred and fifty people died, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA)introduced and enforced new 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’s 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 aforesaid 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 the Japanese & Chinese trucks assembling companies in Pakistan, were initially importing & assembling 280 horsepowertrucksin Pakistan, however after the introduction & enforcement of new rules by the OGRA, a few companies fraudulently transformed their trucks, simply by changing the 280 horsepower stickers in to 360 horsepower stickers. Surprisingly, not a single document or evidenceie “Engine PerformanceCurves” or “Engine Report” was provided by these companies,tothe concerned government departments, to confirm the change of horsepower in the trucks. It is worth mentioning that as per the OGRA’s rules, it is a duty of oil marketing companies (OMC) to obtain “Engine Performance Curves” and “Engine Bench test” from the truck’s selling & manufacturing companies, before using those trucks for the purpose of transportation of petroleum products. However OMCsin Pakistan are deliberately not following this law, which can result in another incident similar to Bahawalpur oil truck explosion or similar to the recent oil tanker blast in Shahdra Chowk near Lahore. Astonishingly, there is not a single bench testmachine or any facilityin Pakistanto check the actual/authentic horsepower of Japanese and Chinese trucks in Pakistan, therefore we have no other option but to believe the oral statements made by the distributors of Japanese andChinesetrucks. Surprisingly,thetruck selling & manufacturing companies in Pakistan merely provide their “company’s letterhead”, which simply states, the horsepower of thetrucks.These companiesmarkettheirtrucks as “OGRA Compliant Trucks” without providing any evidence of the actual horsepower. Itis a duty of atruck selling & manufacturing companies to provide all the relevant documents (including “Performance Curves” and “Engine Bench Test”) to confirm the authentic horsepower ofthetruck’s engines.Allthetrucks selling&manufacturingcompaniesintheworld provide“EnginePerformanceCurves”and“Engine Reports” in their brochures, to confirm the actual horsepower oftheirtrucksandthese documents are considered as public documents. As these documents fall under the purview of public importance matter, especially after incident ofBahawalpurOiltruckExplosion,accordingly every citizen of Pakistanis entitled forthe aforementioned documents or evidences in terms of Article 19-A of 1973 Constitution of Pakistan. The continuous deceptive marketing by the truck seller & manufacturers in Pakistan has a direct impact on the safety & security of the public at large. The Chairman OGRA, Chairman Pakistan Engineering Development Board and Federal Secretary of Ministry of Industries & Production, should be held directly responsible for any incident, similar to Bahawalpur oil truck explosion or the recent oil tanker blast in Shahdra Chowk near Lahore, as it is their duty to check the actual horsepower of the trucks and accordingly issue fitness certificates. —The writer is a Barrister and practises law in Karachi.