BAHAWALPUR: Families of the 240 victims of Ahmedpur East oil tanker incident received compensation cheques in a ceremony held on Wednesday at Circuit House Bahawalpur with the mutual cooperation of Bahawalpur District Administration and the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra).
Bahawalpur Deputy Commissioner Rana Muhammad Saleem Afzal and Ogra Senior Executive Director Imran Ghaznavi distributed cheques of Rs500,000 and Rs1 million among the families of 57 injured and 183 those who lost their lives in the incident, respectively.
While addressing the ceremony, DC Afzal said fastest possible method was adopted to identify injured and dead victims of Ahmedpur East incident through a foolproof way so that financial aid could reach to the deserving families. He said Ahmedpur East incident was a great tragedy.
Ogra senior executive officer said heavy fine has been imposed on the company whose tanker had become a reason for this tragic incident. Ogra Executive Director Sohail Tariq, Ogra Assistant Director Muhammad Hanif, Ogra Assistant Executive Director Muhammad Naseer, SP Investigation Rab Nawaz, Additional Deputy Commissioner Revenue Nausheen Malik and other notables were present on the occasion.
On June 25, just a day before Eid, an oil tanker skidded on the road overturned, causing huge amounts of petrol to leak. The early morning disaster occurred on a stretch of highway cutting through the village of Ramzanpur Joya as crowds scrambled to collect fuel from the tanker before it ignited, ignoring warnings to stay clear. Soon after, a huge fire erupted in the oil tanker causing the tragedy. Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif had constituted a four-member inquiry committee to investigate incident. Motorway police had suspended six of its officials, including a deputy superintendent of police, an inspector and three sub-inspectors. These six officials of the national highway and motorway police were suspended after an inquiry was held by motorway police. These policemen were suspended on account of their negligence and for distorting facts during the investigation before senior officers.
Ogra had 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. The report stated 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.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 5th, 2017.