Burnt alive


Harrowing incident, the one on Islamabad Highway the other day. Our hearts go out to the families of the nine unfortunate passengers who were burnt alive when a passenger coach caught fire, reportedly due to a leakage in the CNG cylinders. The professional rescue services of the capital did reach the spot promptly but the vehicle was gutted by the time they had reached there. And with it, all of the passengers sitting in the middle and rear seats were charred beyond recognition.

The incident is yet another reminder of a deficit in the state’s capacity to regulate sectors. By law, all vehicles with CNG kits have to have a routine check up after a clearly stipulated time period. That time period was selected after incorporating estimates of wear and tear; there is no way an incident of the sort could have taken place had this vehicle had a check up. But it is not just ill-maintained CNG kits that are the problem here. Most of the public vehicles plying the roads are in a bad way, fit for use by neither man nor beast. Barring route-fixing, there is next to no functional and effective regulation of the vehicles, regardless of whatever the law says.

The public transport network in the county is caustic to women, the elderly and the infirm. And it is no fun ride for the men who have to travel to and from work every single day either. It is very easy to have a road-legal vehicle in the country. The transport bodies, like the enforcement branches of all other regulatory mechanisms, are riddled with corruption. Pay up and you’ve got a license.

The Regional Transport Authorities would do well to keep such tragedies in mind when they go about developing methods for ensuring enforcement of the transport laws.