CNG blasts: Too many deaths
Following recent incidents involving CNG cylinders exploding in public transport vehicles in Punjab and Sindh, in which dozens of innocent people lost their lives, the authorities have finally woken up from their slumber. A recommendation has now been presented before the federal government to completely ban the use of CNG cylinders in buses and vans.
The ministry of petroleum and natural resources has given a deadline of one week to owners of vehicles that use CNG to ensure that the cylinders that they have installed comply with safety guidelines. Of course, there is also the issue of whether these guidelines are of a standard that ensures safety for those who travel in such vehicles and also that why weren’t these guidelines being implemented till now. Were the latter being done, perhaps the number of such fatal accidents would have been far lower.
The industry regulator, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority, has also chipped in, with a proposal that seeks a ban on the CNG being used by public transport vehicles, including wagons, buses and coasters. This makes some sense given the recent incidents but may be resisted by the owners of the vehicles since CNG is a cheaper fuel compared to diesel, which is now over ten rupees more expensive than petrol. The best course of action, as in for the public good, would be if the All Pakistan CNG Association (of owners) were to work hand in hand with the government authorities and arrive at a solution which, without raising costs significantly, facilitates the implementation of the safety measures.
The objective has to be to prevent any more accidents involving exploding cylinders. And in this, the help of the print and electronic media can also be used, in educating the public in general and those who travel in such vehicles in particular on the measures that owners of such vehicles need to take to make travelling safer. Perhaps, one thing that the Association could do is to conduct random monitoring of CNG kits. All those vehicles that fail this test should be stopped from plying on the roads and the owners should be given a deadline for getting a proper kit installed. The government can also offer free testing in this regard.
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