The explosion of a fuel tanker at the customs office of the Islam Qala border crossing between Afghanistan and Iran has destroyed over 500 vehicles, leaving many injured, some fatally, and causing an estimated USD 40 million in damage. Our thoughts are with the drivers and transport workers caught up in this situation, and their loved ones.
Sadly, this could have been avoided. Accidents such as this put a spotlight on the importance of international safety standards for road transport, such as the Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR Agreement), which set outs requirements for transporting goods such as fuel. This disaster should act as a catalyst for Afghanistan and Iran to accede to the ADR Agreement and use it to improve safety standards for moving dangerous goods by road.
“IRU supports advances in road safety on a global scale, aiming to prevent this kind of tragedy,” said IRU Secretary General Umberto de Pretto. “International conventions – and the training, certification and monitoring that embed their use into the industry – are crucial to keep our roads safe.”
The severity of the damage caused was partly influenced by the large number of trucks waiting to cross the border. International standards also keep borders running more smoothly, reducing waiting times and congestion.
The United Nations TIR Convention for example allows for checks and customs clearance to be completed at the final destination rather than at the border, preventing large backlogs of vehicles like the one seen at Islam Qala. Use of the TIR system at this border would have likely meant significantly fewer trucks waiting, and therefore a reduced risk of injury and damage.
The Islam Qala border crossing point remains closed until further notice. IRU, with its members the Afghan Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines & Agriculture, will continue to provide live updates on the situation through its members-only Flash Info service.