Illegal petrol depots and mini petrol stations are operating in violation of safety regulations by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) all over Lahore.
These illegal petrol pumps cause dozens of fire incidents every year owing to their unsafe refueling practices. However, the district administration has failed to take any long-term measure to control these fuel stations.
Only a few months ago, a fire incident in Mughalpura area destroyed two shops and the power utility company’s transformers. The citizens also staged a protest over the district administration’s failure to take action against the illegal filling stations.
In many areas like Green Town, Township, Ghazi Road, Kacha Road, Ferozepur Road, Kot Lakhpat, Raiwind Road, and Sabzazar, people have set up mini petrol stations in residential neighborhoods and jammed markets. They used to sell petrol in metal containers and plastic bottles, but now these outlets have installed fuel-dispensing machines.
OGRA’s Technical Standards for the Petroleum Industry (Retail Outlets) Regulation require 20-foot or 6-meter clear space on both sides of the dispensing machine.
The regulation clearly mentions that these machines should be installed on a raised platform with bolts to prevent accidents. However, illegal mini petrol pumps have installed machines in small shops while ignoring safety measures.
Moreover, these stations have installed the dispensing units on rolling wheel stands, which they take out of shops during business hours and roll them back when closing the shop or during raids.
Apart from ignoring the safety regulations, these fuel stations are also violating fuel price regulations, selling fuel at rates higher than notified.
Officers of the district administration maintain that with the available team and resources, it is difficult to address all these issues in a city like Lahore. The district authorities have to fix day-to-day issues like firefighting and thus, serious issues get ignored.