Lahore: The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority has slapped a fine on Shell Pakistan on finding that the tanker involved in Ahmedpur East accident did not meet its safety standards.The horrid tragedy has brought to light terrible facts related to the oil marketing and transportation sectors.In particular, it has highlighted that to cut costs of operations and to avoid meeting regulations oil marketing companies, most of whom are multi-nationals with absolutely no dearth of resources or political influence, have conveniently passed on the task of transportation of petroleum products to third-party contractors.The latter have neither been meeting safety standards set by the regulators for their transportation vehicles nor been providing anywhere close to decent working conditions to their drivers who are frequently overworked and underpaid. Though, Ogra has yet to officially endorse this claim but some new reports suggest that the regulator estimates that nearly 85 percent of tankers used in transportation of petroleum products fail to meet its safety standards.Importantly, while imposing the fine on the OMC concerned in the Ahmedpur East accident, the regulator has clearly stated that presence of contractors does not rid OMCs of their responsibilities to ensure safety standards. This would suggest that Ogra is determined to proceed sternly in the matter. Meaning it will at least seek inspection reports of all tankers carrying petroleum products across country. And it will take punitive action against those found in violation of its regulations.Alas, the regulator has only sought a timeframe from OMCs in which the latter can ensure that their tankers meet its safety standards.The Ahmedpur accident fallout has also raised questions over the regulator’s own role in the matter. Since transport safety standards seem to have been put in place in 2009, has the regulator since been collecting fitness certificates of tankers every year, and has it also been conducting occasional third-party audits to ascertain the claims made in these certificates? Evidence available in the public domain suggests that this has not been the case. A fake fitness certificate had been submitted for the tanker involved in Ahmedpur East accident that failed to meet safety standards. Surely, the regulator would have caught this malpractice had it been conducting what should be routine matters without a fail.Additionally, do the Labour Departments in provinces plan to wake up from their deep slumber anytime soon and start performing the task Pakistani public pays them for? Long-distance goods transportation sector is notorious in this country for its dismal labour practices. The drivers hired by contractors perform the most important task yet they are frequently underpaid and overworked. The OMCs need to be held responsible for the wellbeing of this most crucial human resource to their business.Finally, until the country can proceed to a stage where we end our reliance on oil and other non-renewable energy sources, we can at least try and improve the state of governance in this most crucial sector of our economy. Published in Daily Times, July 9th , 2017.