Just one day before Eid, we have 153 dead from an accident that was entirely avoidable.
An oil tanker crashed on a road near Bahawalpur on Sunday and 153 people, many of whom had rushed to collect leaking fuel, were killed when it exploded. The tanker was carrying 40,000 litres of fuel overturned after trying to make a sharp turn while travelling from Karachi to Lahore.
In the gory chain of events there are many questions that need answers. Who was in charge of checking the tyres? Who was the vehicle outsourced from if it was outsourced? Was it road worthy? Whose head will roll? The assumption right now, is that it was indeed a burst tyre. The facts are that the vehicle was road worthy.
With outsourced trucks it is the job of the licensee to ensure that the vehicle is road worthy. The oil company will probably be fined, and be made to pay compensation to the families, but then there’s another unfortunate issue to address and lament over.
Hundreds of people, rather than flee from the site of the accident for personal safety, ran up to the tanker to collect oil, forgetting that the material is highly flammable. After about 10 minutes the tanker exploded in a huge fireball and enveloped the people collecting petrol. It was not clear how the fire started. It could have been anything, from a careless cigarette to a spark from the damaged vehicle. And it is not that there was no warning. Motorway Police said that the police tried to keep people away from the tanker but they were ignored as residents continued filling their containers with fuel.
The lack of safety checks and education on the most obvious means of protection is a societal problem, one propagated by the government relentlessly ignoring routine procedures in favour of an easier and often more dangerous way. Slapping perpetrators on the wrist for egregious mishaps such as this also ensures that there is no accountability, no blame and no lesson learnt.
Tragedies such as this are only going to continue taking place unless the state takes a step in inculcating using safety checks and being careful as fundamental qualities within society.