Opinion: CNG Cylinder Explosion Claims 17 Innocent Souls
by Sara Saad
A few days ago, the deadly incident of the explosion of a CNG cylinder in a school bus claimed 17 innocent souls, provoking panic among the public, leaving the city of Gujrat in grief. If truth be told, factual evidence proves that it was caused due the negligence of the bus driver, who probably didn’t change the CNG kit after its expiration date. This happened on a bright sunny day, when the bus was only a few miles away from school. According to the concerned officials, an FIR has been lodged against the culprits, who will be further questioned on this crucial matter at later stages. We strongly condemn such incidents, even if our words make a very small condolence with the loved ones of the victims.
CNG has always been looked upon as a popular alternative of diesel and petrol, in all kinds of transport vehicles, as it drastically reduces the travelling expense. It is apparently more environment-friendly as well, compared to petroleum. It, however, remains undeniable that this cheap replacement has resulted in more fatalities than any other fuel. The unethical practice of selling, reselling and usage of expired CNG kits has all been due to a lack of appropriate checks and balances by related authorities. An additional unfortunate fact is the issuance of illegal certifications, for the installation of substandard CNG kits in public and commercial vehicles, by the authorities.
Every so often, public and private owners keep the CNG kits in a barely serviceable condition to avoid big expenses – in other words, just to make more money - posing a risk to millions of lives. They don’t believe in timely removal and disposal of CNG cylinders, as they don’t recognize the deadly consequences of using CNG kits beyond their safe-life. Perhaps they have more voice than the people who travel on these vehicles, so they don’t care much about preventive measures.
Regardless of several callings from the Sindh High Court at different occasions, the OGRA miserably failed to put into practice the laws and policies made for the installation and sale of the CNG kits; even though the OGRA have been bound to ensure the safety and security of the natives of this nation. It has no suitable placement and arrangement of the Vehicles Examiners, who could have a strict control on reselling and installation of substandard CNG kits. There are also many system-protected transportation giants who are illegally selling these kits. Unfortunately, this has been a neglected truth.
The episode has cast a very negative image of Pakistan on the global community. This is because we live in an empirical age, where such incidents can be very hurting to any economy, as it shows the regulatory bodies to be unconcerned when it comes to the enforcement and execution of proper law and order in Pakistan. This negligence causes numerous deadly events every year, but is overlooked by the related authorities, as the hype stays only for a few hours and then hastily dies away. Sometimes, the area, where the incident takes place, also matters. For instance, the incident took place in Gujrat, which has a minor population, so it became easier for the authorities to sweep the issue beneath the rug.
I pose a question here to those who talk about change: Where is the change? Where is the new beginning? As such, a major event has taken place, but not a single politician was spotted at the scene of the incident to share the grievance and sympathize with the affected, which is very disgraceful on their part. I believe that their visit, though not on a massive level, but could have, if only slightly, answered the unhappiness of many. Regrettably, this has become a social dilemma, which defines how unconcerned the authorized figures of our nation are.
Transportation plays a substantial role in the success of any economy. The air, railways and sea transport have been well taken care of; the only neglected one is the road. I personally propose to the winning parties, forming the next regime, to revisit and resolute this issue by formulating and regularizing new policies. There needs to be made major amendments in the rules – as well as their implementation thereby – regarding the installation of CNG kits, tracking systems, proper disposal methods and safety standards in all vehicles.
Sara Saad is currently teaching at SICAS and is a student of Masters in Business Administration, and can be reached at [email protected]