The Lahore High Court has done well to warn the Punjab Transport Authority (PTA) that in the event of another Gujrat-like tragedy they would be held responsible since it is they who give licences and are vested with the powers to curb the use of such vehicles. With that, the court has also banned the use of ramshackle CNG kits and cylinders in use. That this still needed exploit banning, is just a depressing indication of how far we still have to go.

Like always, the judiciary yet again seems to be the last hope that is conscious of setting long lasting practices in place to benefit the system as a whole. The Supreme Court has already taken suo moto notice of the Gujrat tragedy. The IG police and the school administration have been summoned. It is hoped that traffic police and other departments concerned with overseeing all commercial transport would now follow the court’s orders in letter and in spirit. The problem as always is that while things change on paper, in practice they are only cosmetically done. For instance, there are reportedly many thousands of buses and vans all over Punjab that are generally referred to as ‘mini-death capsules’, the commuters are packed like sardines, which makes them further vulnerable to an accident since in the event of the cylinder’s explosion, the passengers cannot get out of the vehicle. The authorities casually look the other way.

It is a real challenge whether the police would really go after such vehicles, would really force them to replace their kits. As things stand, laws are already there but just by greasing the palm of the officials concerned, fitness certificates are issued after which there is literally no stopping them, until it results in a tragedy. In the coming days, the authorities themselves have to be observed to see whether the orders of the court are fulfilled or things go on as usual. Besides, school administrations all across would have to be watched; they charge heavy fee but stuff the children in worn out vans as though they were cattle. The PTA as well as the city governments all over the province should rise to the challenge to purge the roads of such death vans and buses.