Kamal Siddiqi’s frightening analysis published in the Opinion section of this newspaper on June 30 about the appalling and shameful affairs in the aviation sector ought to be thought-provoking for any government. Each year thousands of lives are needlessly lost in the public transportation sector of Pakistan. Most of these are clearly preventable and amounts to avoidable manslaughter, if not murder. If we accept this, we should shudder at the Holy Prophet’s (peace be upon him) invocation that the killing of one person is akin to the killing of all of humanity.
The current governance, regulatory, and investigative structures in Pakistan lack resources and competence and is plagued with conflict of interest. The costs of these maladies are enormous. Apart from the loss of precious human lives, such accidents directly affect the GDP. The World Bank estimates that if India were to halve its approximately 300,000 annual road fatalities in the next 20 years, it would add 14% to its GDP per capita.
There is a dire need of setting up an independent National Transportation Safety Board to analyse public transportation accidents and to recommend actions that improve transport safety. Its domain should encompass both ground and air transport while marine activity could be added later. It is hoped that the government will deal with these issues seriously in order to stop the avoidable wastage of precious human and economic capital.
Wasif M Khan
Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2020.