Transport tragedies

Published February 1, 2023

TWO tragedies over the weekend illustrate the weak protocols governing the safety of transport in Pakistan. In fact, the example can be extended to general safety considerations in the country. A high number of fatalities was reported in both incidents — a bus accident in Balochistan and a boat capsizing in KP — on Sunday. In the first case, a Karachi-bound bus veered into a ravine apparently due to speeding in Bela, near Khuzdar. As the vehicle caught fire after the accident, at least 41 victims were burnt alive. In the second incident, an outing for madressah students to Kohat’s Tanda Dam ended up in tragedy as their vessel capsized, apparently due to overcrowding. Some 37 people have been reported dead in the unfortunate episode.

Many questions have emerged about both tragedies, that, if addressed, could save precious lives in future. Apart from the speeding factor in the Bela accident, reports indicate that fire tenders were unavailable in nearby towns, and by the time firefighting equipment arrived the vehicle had been gutted. Equally disturbing are claims that the doomed bus was carrying smuggled Iranian petrol and diesel. Local authorities also say there was no presence of the Motorway Police between Khuzdar and Hub. Speeding and rash driving on Pakistan’s roads and highways is no secret. According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, there were nearly 6,000 fatalities in road accidents in 2020-21; WHO estimates of fatalities are far higher. Therefore, the presence of trained traffic police units on busy highways is essential to check speeding, vehicle fitness, etc. Moreover, particularly on thoroughfares that see heavy traffic movement, firefighting and rescue vehicles need to be posted in close proximity to respond to emergencies. As for smuggled petroleum products being transported in passenger vehicles, there needs to be a crackdown on this criminal practice as it turns these vehicles into fire hazards on wheels. With regard to the Kohat tragedy, there were reportedly no divers around, while most of the children were not wearing life jackets. It needs to be ensured by the authorities that boats and other leisure equipment at tourist spots are in good condition, that overloading does not occur, and that safety protocols are followed. Unless our attitude towards safety changes, and there are actual lessons learned following official probes into such tragedies, we will be doomed to repeatedly witness such disasters.

Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2023

Opinion

Editorial

Time for dialogue
Updated 24 Jun, 2024

Time for dialogue

If the PML-N and PTI remain mired in mutual acrimony, an ever-widening gap will continue to allow non-political forces to assert themselves.
Property taxes
24 Jun, 2024

Property taxes

ACCORDING to reports in the local media, along with the higher taxes imposed on real estate in the recent budget, ...
Fierce heat
24 Jun, 2024

Fierce heat

CLIMATE change is unfolding as predicted by experts: savage heat, melting glaciers, extreme rainfall, drought, ...
China’s concerns
23 Jun, 2024

China’s concerns

Pakistan has no option but to neutralise militant threat to Chinese projects, as well as address its business and political stability concerns.
War drums
23 Jun, 2024

War drums

If it is foolish enough to launch another war in Lebanon, Tel Aviv will be solely responsible for setting the Middle East on fire.
Balochistan budget
23 Jun, 2024

Balochistan budget

BALOCHISTAN’S Rs955.6bn budget for the fiscal year 2024-25 makes many pledges to the poor citizens of Pakistan’s...