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New safety rules stir oil tanker owners

Updated October 13, 2018

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Karachi: A large number of oil tankers are parked near Shireen Jinnah Colony.—Online
Karachi: A large number of oil tankers are parked near Shireen Jinnah Colony.—Online

ISLAMABAD: The All Pakistan Oil Tanker Owners Association (APOTOA) on Friday announced to go on a countrywide strike against a recommendation of the Senate Standing Committee on Petroleum seeking immediate removal of unsafe tankers from roads.

Speaking at a news conference, APOTOA Chairman Mir Muhammad Yousaf Shahwani said the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) had set a deadline of September 2019 for the oil tanker owners to upgrade their fleets to its notified safety standards and road worthiness standards of the National Highway Authority (NHA).

The decision for the September 2019 deadline was taken after the Bahawalpur East tragedy — in which over 200 lives were lost — following a road accident and subsequent oil spill.

The chairman said tanker owners had reservations over the deadline because of manufacturing industry’s constraints to upgrade a fleet of over 32,000 tankers. The project involved Rs15 million investment per tanker against the existing cost of Rs5m.

Senate committee wants unsafe fuel vehicles off the roads immediately

He said that on the directives of the Senate body, Pakistan State Oil (PSO) issued an order on Oct 9 under which it stopped calibrating our oil tankers and asked us to secure compliance certificates from a third party.

The senate standing committee directed PSO to strictly follow the ‘queue system for tank lorries’ except in the case where vehicles are in dilapidated condition and that there should not be second queue. The committee also asked to ban all lorries which are in dilapidated condition by giving comprehensive reasons for this in writing.

Normally, OMCs calibrate tankers for a year. However, the PSO’s calibrated tankers – which still have a year’s time — have been barred from supplying the oil.

He alleged that a senator – who was a member of the said standing committee and operator of a tanker fleet – was aided by some others to secure an order from the body for his vested interests.

Mr Shahwani said the senator had brought his tankers carrying stickers of 350 horsepower which actually were of not that capacity. He said a lot of these tankers were earlier engaged in furnace oil supply that had turned surplus on previous government’s decision to shift power plants from furnace oil to imported LNG.

Legal adviser for APOTOA Advocate Naeem Haider said that for the last two years NHA had blocked oil tankers from passing tankers through Kohat tunnel by labeling them security risk. This is despite the fact that none of the APOTOA lorries ever faced any accident of terrorism or security lapse, he added.

He further said that there are 32,000 tankers working with the 47 OMCs, of which 8,500 oil tankers are attached with the PSO.

Published in Dawn, October 13th, 2018