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School van tragedy

January 08, 2019

Email

A heartbreaking tragedy has occurred at the very start of this year when eight children suffered burns as their school van caught fire. Article 9 of the Constitution gives protection of life to its citizens. Therefore it is the state’s duty to guarantee the protection of lives of its citizens.

It is a case of criminal negligence on the part of relevant government officials. They must be dealt with under the provisions of the Pakistan Penal Code, relating to culpable homicide and grievous bodily harm. I demand that an immediate FIR be lodged against the high officials of concerned departments.

The FIR should be lodged against Sindh’s Transport Secretary and regional transport officers of Karachi, working directly under the Transport Minister of Sindh because they failed to carry out inspections to ensure that the school van had a valid fitness certificate.

The DIG Traffic, Karachi, is equally responsible for the tragedy because he failed to implement the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Ordinance, 1965, which requires the police to examine public service vehicles, including their fuel tanks and overall condition.

It is notable that under section 23(2) (b) and (d) of the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority Ordinance 2002, it is Ogra’s responsibility to grant licences to those who “undertake transporting, filling, marketing or distributing LPG, LNG or CNG”. Therefore, it is the responsibility of Ogra to ensure that CNG is safely stored in cylinders in public service vehicles. It is also Ogra’s responsibility to implement the Petroleum Rules, 1985. Evidently, Ogra has failed to fulfil its obligations.

The newly formed federal government must direct Ogra to ensure strict action against licence holders running petrol pumps and CNG stations if they are found selling loose petrol or providing CNG to vehicles which have either unbranded cylinders or cylinders of substandard brands. It is also the duty of traffic authorities to ensure that all public service vehicles are kept off roads if they do not possess fitness certificates.

Arsalan Raja

Karachi

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2019

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