KARACHI: The Sindh High Court directed the federal and provincial authorities to file a progress report regarding the standards of safety and security about the fuel-carrying vehicles, it emerged on Sunday.

The SHC said that it had directed the authorities concerned on May 30, 2016 to constitute a high-level commission/ committee to examine the existing laws and whether they matched the international standards of safety and security, particularly while transporting explosive or dangerous material.

A single bench of the SHC headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar observed that the record was not reflecting if any commission was established or any compensation was paid to the victims of a horrible accident between an oil tanker and passenger coach in a Malir locality in 2015.

More than 60 people were killed in a bus-oil tanker smash near Memon Goth in 2015

The bench also issued notices to federal and provincial law officers for May 3 and called a progress report about the implementation of its May 30 order by next hearing.

The bench issued these directives during the hearing of appeals filed by Mohammad Hanif and Imamuddin against their convictions handed down by a sessions court last year in the case pertaining to an accident between an oil tanker and a passenger bus in the Memon Goth area of Malir in January 2015. Over 60 people were killed in the accident.

The bench observed that such oil tankers appeared to be moving bombs resulting in immense loss of life, adding that since oil was known as highly flammable, it required to be transported strictly in accordance with laws and rules in properly designed vehicles.

However, it is noticed that companies concerned were transporting huge amounts of oil in simple trucks and vehicles merely by doing some alterations and this was nothing short of a criminal negligence on the part of the quarters concerned, including traffic police and transport authorities, it added.

Referring to its May 30, 2016 order, the bench said that it had asked the federation with all relevant institutions as well as after taking the provincial governments on board, to constitute a high-level committee/commission consisting of representatives of the Hydrocarbon Department Institute of Pakistan, chief inspector for explosives, the ministry of industries; directorate general for gas, ministry of petroleum & natural resources; inspectors general of police of all the provinces, motor vehicles and fitness departments of all the provinces and the deputy secretary, ministry of petroleum, as its members.

The SHC had said that the committee /commission would examine the existing laws as well as whether they matched the international standards of safety and security, particularly while transporting explosives/dangerous material.

The court in its earlier order had also asked the federal authorities to constitute such a committee/commission within 15 days and it would decide the issues preferably within two months and file a compliance report in the court.

The bench in its previous order had also observed that the authorities needed not only to inform the licensees time and again for complying with safety measures, but also should ensure an action, particularly when such negligence was likely to endanger public safety.

The public safety cannot be left at the sole discretion of the licensee, but the authority is also equally responsible to ensure a proper mechanism of check.

Published in Dawn, April 29th, 2019