In a recent development, the government is planning to regulate the environmental safety and quality of locally-assembled vehicles to meet international standards. This means that it is flirting with the idea of putting into place a vehicle recall system and regularly checking the reliability of vehicles on the road. This is a laudable step as it targets a very pressing issue, particularly in light of the recent pollution statistics released by the World Health Organisation, naming Pakistan as having three of the top 10 most-polluted cities in the world in terms of disease-causing air toxins.
Ideally, this should have been given consideration prior to the years of importing junkyard-worthy vehicles from other countries. It would now best serve car consumers if the auto development proposal clearly defines parameters and timelines for implementation — including consequences in the almost inevitable circumstance that manufacturers do not comply with the regulations and fail to use quality materials. The Engineering Development Board (EDB) needs to first focus on implementing basic rules like mandating that all vehicles contain seatbelts and that their carbon emissions, which contribute to greenhouse gases, are not exceeding international limits. Teams of Pakistani engineers, manufacturers and mechanics should be sent for professional training overseas to learn about the importance of safety regulations and the know-hows of meeting international standards. Additionally, regular vehicle servicing should be mandated with a reporting system to the government on the last service date of every registered vehicle. This is something the traffic police can verify when they stop vehicles for regular checking.
Lastly, we need a system of check and balance to monitor the EDB, which is known for giving preference to assemblers and manufacturers over consumer needs. When it comes to ensuring human safety, we cannot compromise on the quality of vehicles, nor on the quality of engineers given the responsibility of ensuring consumer health and safety. The initiative is an excellent one, but requires meticulous investigation, planning and implementation.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th, 2015.
Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ