BAHAWALPUR: The All Pakistan Oil Tankers Owners Association (APOTOA) has said that the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) is responsible for the Ahmedpur East oil tanker incident in which more than 215 people were killed.
On June 25, an oil tanker skidded on the road and overturned, causing huge amounts of petrol to leak. Hundreds of people from nearby villages rushed to the scene to collect oil. Soon after, a huge fire erupted in the oil tanker causing the tragedy.
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APOTOA Chairman Mir Muhammad Yousuf Shahwani lashed out at the regulatory authority for its “wrong policies”, during a news conference at the local press club on Monday.
“Such an incident could occur again should the government not adopt preventive measures,” he said, adding that valuable lives could have been saved had the Motorway police and the Punjab police reached the spot on time.
“The driver of the oil tanker screamed for hours asking people to stay away from the petrol leaking from the tanker, but no one listened to him,” he said, expressing surprise that the driver gave his life protecting the lives of others, and the administration repaid him by stating that he fled the scene.
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The APOTOA chairman demanded strict action against the negligent officials who said that the driver fled the scene.
He said that as soon as the Pakistan Army was informed, its soldiers took immediate steps and controlled the situation. They shifted the injured to different hospitals in Multan and Lahore through helicopters and made every possible attempt to save lives, he added.
Shahwani said the Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) – responsible for ensuring safety protocols at oil depots – had completely failed as no fire brigade was found near the oil depot nor were any security arrangements in place there. He requested Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to have OMCs compensate the families of the victims.
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He urged OGRA to reconsider its “faulty” policies – causing Ahmedpur East-like incidents in the country – from the scratch. He said under the international law, the capacity of an oil tanker to carry fuel is 40,000 litres, but the OGRA and OMCs never took any step to enforce the law.
Blaming OGRA and OMCs responsible for the incident, the APOTOA chairman called for the imposition of a mere Rs10 million fine on the oil tanker’s company (Shell Pakistan) “illegal”.
He warned the government that if the Motorway Police did not refrain from issuing illegal challans and taking bribes “a complete strike would be observed throughout the country”.
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