- Another horrific accident on Karachi-Lasbela-Quetta road
Monday’s tragic collision between a passenger bus and most probably a truck (or both vehicles) carrying smuggled Iranian oil, which has so far claimed at least 27 dead and left nearly twenty injured, with the overall fatality toll expected to rise further, has again opened a host of questions, the familiar ones which were raised after each similar earlier accident, but left unanswered and soon forgotten along with the ‘commonplace’ victims. The completely burnt out wreckage of the two vehicles is a poignant pointer to the terrible suffering of the people trapped in the flaming inferno, their bodies charred beyond recognition and identifiable only by DNA. Effective emergency rescue services, local hospital facilities in working order, what to talk of modern burn units, are rarely available except in provincial capitals, and valuable time and more lives are lost in the process of shifting the seriously injured to the nearest big city, Karachi in the present instance.
This stretch of highway in Hub tehsil of Balochistan’s Lasbela district has reportedly transported thousands of poor unwary travellers to the hereafter, being cramped and totally unfitted for the over-speeding buses and goods-laden heavy trucks plying on it, some of them unfortunately carrying illicit Iranian oil, and with their proprietors driven more by the promise of quick profit than the safety of their passenger wards and freight wares. Despite repeated mishaps, it is surprising that such overt smuggling is still going on under the very noses of the various para-military and customs officials in a restive, sensitive region closely intertwined with game-changer CPEC projects, and it would appear that the lure of filthy lucre has triumphed in this case too. In August last, 18 people, including women and children, died in a bus-‘tanker’ collision, while in 2014, 38 lost their lives in an accident involving two buses carrying smuggled oil. Lack of broadened, upgraded roads, poor condition of vehicles, rash driving and over-speeding, overworked, fatigued drivers, fake driving licenses obtained by bribes, and absence of proper monitoring, are other culprits behind such shocking road disasters. Mere payment of compensation to heirs does not absolve the provincial administration of its larger responsibility of providing safe and effective transportation network and infrastructure.