The Sindh High Court directed the police on Thursday to ensure that no substandard compressed natural gas (CNG) cylinders were being used in any vehicle and remove those not approved by the Hydrocarbon Development Institute of Pakistan.
A two-member bench, headed by Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, also directed the traffic police to check CNG cylinders installed in vehicles across Karachi and the Motorway DIG to inspect those fixed in automobiles being driven on motorways.
Hearing a plea pertaining to the installation of substandard cylinders in schools vans and public transport, the court also ordered the closure of workshops installing substandard CNG cylinders in vehicles.
“There should be no compromise on public safety,” Justice Mazhar remarked, stressing the need for the integrated monitoring and inspection of CNG cylinders in vehicles.
The court inquired who was responsible for checking ‘roadside mechanics’ installing CNG cylinders in vehicles.
“They should have a licence and a certificate verifying that the cylinders they are installing are safe for use,” pointed out Justice Mazhar. “There should be licenced workshops [for installing CNG cylinders], but here, any random person is installing them.”
When the court asked what had the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) been doing on the matter and observed that ‘concrete steps’ are needed to resolve the issue, the petitioner, Advocate Tariq Mansoor replied that the OGRA has issued standard operating procedures for running workshops offering services for installing CNG cylinders in vehicles.
“Monitoring is now the responsibility of the local administration,” he maintained.
The counsel for the OGRA further pointed out to the court that while licenced workshops were charging Rs10,000 for installing a CNG cylinder in a vehicle, uncertified mechanics operating by roadsides charged as little as Rs2,000 for the job.
At this, the court directed the traffic police to check CNG cylinders in vehicles across the city, and Motorway DIG to inspect those installed in automobiles travelling on motorways, starting from Thursday (yesterday).
“All cars must be checked, irrespective of who is the owner,” the court ruled.
The representatives of All Pakistan CNG Association, however, prayed the court to defer the checking for some time.
At this, Justice Mazhar remarked that accidents did not give time to prepare before taking place.
“Major action should be initiated against the use of substandard CNG cylinders from today (Thursday),” the court stated, ordering the closure of workshops installing substandard cylinders.
In a bid to convince the court to allow some time before the starting the operation, the members of the All Pakistan CNG Association said they needed two months to ensure that all safety measures were taken.
At this, the petitioner pointed out that there was an explosion in a rickshaw just two days ago, implying the need for urgency to address the issue.
The members of the CNG association then agreed that unlicensed mechanics operating by roadside were the ‘real problem’.
Besides, the Explosive Department director general expressed readiness to crackdown on unlicensed mechanics and issue licences to new workshops, which would install cylinders of good quality.
The members of the CNG association too expressed willingness to set up 35 new workshops, at which the court directed that licences be issued to the new workshops.