ISLAMABAD: The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) has held a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell responsible for the tanker explosion that killed more than 200 people near Bahawalpur last month.
According to a report prepared by the regulatory authority, the tanker carrying gasoline for Shell Pakistan Ltd (SPL) did not meet the set requirements. “Moreover, the fitness certificate issued to the tanker also turned out to be fake,” says the report.
More than 150 people were killed on June 25 after an overturned oil truck exploded in a huge fireball while it was surrounded by crowds scavenging for fuel in Ahmedpur East. The death toll has since crossed the 200 mark.
In the investigative report, Ogra held the private company responsible for the incident, but ordered it to pay a meager Rs10 million as penalty.
In addition, the regulator ordered the company to pay Rs1 million in compensation to the families of each of those killed and Rs500,000 for each person injured.
In its findings, the report describes that the main accident i.e. rolling over of the tanker off the road and subsequent spillage of petrol is clearly attributed to non-professional driving.
“Outbreak of fire is attributed to lack or delayed response of the local administration and Motorway Police to cordon off the area for restricting the approach and gathering of the general public at the site of the accident.
“The lack of awareness to the general public for staying away from the site of such accident can possibly cause the explosion, leading to a national tragedy.”
The report states that such accidents can be mitigated through safety standards and this specific accident could have been avoided if the lorry was compliant to the applicable safety laws and rules.
The investigators have found that the tank lorry, TLJ 352, was hired by the SPL from its haulier, Marwat Enterprises, which has been found to be non-compliant with the Pakistan Petroleum Rules 1937.
The Ogra report says, “Since the tank lorry was found to not have CIE license, it is regarded as non-complaint with the rules. As per NHSO-2000 requirement, 50,000L tank lorry must have 5-6 axles but the said tank lorry had 4 axles.
“Although, the SPL has provided a certificate of fitness by the Motor Vehicle Examiner issued under Quetta. However, the same is [found to be] fake as confirmed by the Chief Minister Investigation Team (CMIT), Punjab.
“The SPL has failed to provide the preload checklist of their own company. Instead, they have submitted their haulier’s i.e. Marwat Enterprises checklist (Annexure-IX). If the same was in place or exercised/monitored in actual, the said lorry could have been denied for loading the product by the SPL.”
It further states that the SPL has failed to provide its own ERP and submitted the ERP of its haulier i.e. Marwat Enterprises (Annexure-X). “This shows the SPL’s entire dependence on the ERP of its haulier, which is very casual attitude of the company of the caliber of SPL to handle the emergency at the time of spill etc, and the same is therefore, not acceptable.
“As per Rule 69 of the Pakistan Oil (Refining, Blending, Transportation, Storage and Marketing) Rules, 2016, a person, who contravenes any provisions of the ordinance, these rules, terms and conditions of the licence, or the decisions of the authority, shall be punishable with fine which may extend to ten million rupees and in case of a continuing contravention with a further fine which may extend to one million rupees for every day during which such contravention continues.”
The report concludes that the authority has decided to impose a penalty of Rs10 million on the SPL which shall be deposited by the company within three working days of the receipt of this order.
“SPL shall comply with the decision, failing which the authority would be constrained to initiate proceeding against the company to impose further penalty or any other strict action under the law/rules inter alia including suspension of the marketing activity.”