ISLAMABAD: A legislative body on Monday was informed that about 62 percent of oil tankers could not meet the safety requirements set by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) and the National Highway Authority (NHA). Discussing the Ahmedpur Sharqia, Bahawalpur oil tankers incident, in which over 200 people died, members of the Senate Standing Committee on Petroleum and Natural Resources termed it negligence on part of the OGRA, NHA, Explosives Department and the local administration. The committee suggested tough punishment in the future so as to avoid such incidents. Briefing the committee, OGRA Chairperson Uzma Adil admitted that the regulator (OGRA) failed to implements its own safety rules and regulations. There were around 11,704 oil-caring tankers of which only 38 percent (4,653) met the safety standards of OGRA, NHA and the Explosives Department, the committee was told. At this, the committee expressed serious reservations over not fulfilling the safety requirements. The members said that since the incident, more than 25 accidents involving tankers had occurred in different parts of the country, and there was a chance that such a fatal accident might reoccur in the future. They also suggested that Motor Vehicle Ordinance 1965 should be amended according to the modern day’s requirements. The senators expressed their astonishment over fitness certificate issued to 99.9 percent of the oil tankers, while another department gave only 38 percent fitness certificates to these tankers. They said that there were weaknesses in the system and work had to be done in this regard. After the incident Ahmedpur Sharqia, the chairperson said an inquiry had been ordered through third party inspectors (TPIs), which submitted its report. According to the report, Shell Petroleum Limited had to check the safety requirements. On the basis of the report, she said the OGRA imposed the highest penalty of Rs 10 million and Rs 1 million for a dead and Rs 0.5 million for injured person on Shell Pakistan Limited (SPL). The company already deposited the penalty and compensation money, for which OGRA opened a new account. The OGRA chief said that now the regulator decided to implement its safety requirement strictly through the third party inspectors, who were well qualified and appointed from the private sector. The committee said that the OGRA, NHA, Explosives Department and the local police were responsible for the deaths in the Ahmedpur incident and criminal cases should be lodged against them. The committee members asked for a detail inquiry, with recommendation that no mercy should be shown to the individuals/departments responsible. Acting Petroleum Secretary Jalal Sinkandar told the committee that the ministry had called a meeting of all departments concerned related to the Ahmedpur oil tanker incident and strict punishment would be awarded to the accused. The committee was also informed that the said tanker was caring 50,000 litres of fuel, which was above its capacity. The delayed response of the local administration and the motorway police to condoning off the areas and restricting the people from gathering the ‘free fuel’ also contributed to the high number of deaths. The OGRA recommended to the government that all tank lorries transporting petroleum products should be manufactured in line with applicable safety laws, rules and regulations. In this regard, Oil Companies Advisory Committee (OCAC) shall shortlist the manufacturing companies on the basis of their best international practices, OGRA authorities said, adding that no vehicle made by the companies other than those approved by the OCAC could be put in the oil transportation service. It also recommended the motor vehicle examiner to revisit their SOPs and ensure that tank lorries were in compliance with all the applicable safety rules and regulations, prior to granting fitness certificates to such vehicles. Published in Daily Times, July 25th 2017.