Protecting commuters: Laws sought for safety measures in passenger vehicles

Court says imposing penalties not enough, lives need to be saved.

Umer Farooq May 28, 2013
Route permits for 13 vehicles had been cancelled with a penalty imposed on 2,045 others for lacking safety equipment. PHOTO: FILE

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) has directed the incoming Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government to pass legislation that ensures the safety of passengers and school children travelling in buses.

The orders were issued during the hearing of a Human Rights Directorate petition pertaining to the shortage of safety measures in vehicles carrying passengers, school children and employees of different organisations.

Assistant director legal transport informed a division bench comprising PHC Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice Qaiser Rashid that route permits for 13 vehicles had been cancelled with a penalty imposed on 2,045 others for lacking safety equipment.

Provincial Transport Authority Chairman Sikandar Qayum said a meeting between all stakeholders was convened on a monthly basis and safety measures along with actions taken against those violating court orders were being discussed.

The bench, however, observed the policy guidelines provided by the court in 2011 were not being followed.

“It (the policy guideline) was in the public’s larger interest. Imposing penalties fills the government’s treasury, but we want people to travel without fear,” said Justice Khan. He also quoted incidents in which lives were lost due to CNG cylinder blasts in passenger and school children vehicles.

The court ordered all stakeholders to ensure CNG kits installed in public transport vehicles were of international standards. It further ordered the provision of fire extinguishers in all such vehicles and observed any violators would be charged and their route permits would be cancelled.

The chief secretary was directed by the bench to convene a meeting of all stakeholders on a monthly basis and ordered the provincial police chief to ensure the transport department was supported by traffic police.

The court ordered vehicles carry only one CNG tank and directed the provincial government to make all offences cognizable and without bail.

At least 16 schoolchildren and a teacher were burnt to death on Saturday when their school van’s gas cylinder exploded in Kot Fateh Din area of Gujrat. Another seven children were seriously injured in the blaze which also destroyed the vehicle.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2013.


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