An explosion occurred on 14th November 2018 in one of Honda Atlas’s factories in Karachi, Pakistan left at least 6 workers died with 100% burn wounds while 1 survived with only 10% burns. No First Information Report (FIR) was lodged and it was believed that the explosion occurred due to gas leakage. However, in a recent post on Facebook made by a brother of one of the deceased workers accused Honda for lying about the cause of the incident and claimed that he knows the actual cause.
Honda Atlas, as the name suggests, is a joint venture between Hondaand Atlas Group. It is authorized to assemble, manufacture and sell Honda vehicles in Pakistan. In fact, it is one of the largest 3 manufacturers that makes automobiles in Pakistan. The other 2 being Toyota Indus and Pak Suzuki.
Some claim that these 3 have monopolized the automobile industry of Pakistan, not allowing any other manufacturer to set camp. Which leads to a probable conclusion that since there isn’t much competition, the “Big Three” often compromise on quality. The consequences of these compromises are never pleasant as we shall now see.
After the incident, something disturbing was brought in recently by none other than the brother of a deceased worker. He made a Facebook page called Justice for Aamir, where he came up with serious allegations against Honda Atlas. Muhammad Aamir was an engineer at the ill-fated factory and was one of the six people that didn’t survive.
Sharifullah Mohammad, brother of Mohammad Aamir, made a lengthy post on his page explaining how Honda Atlas tried to hush up the incident. He also claimed that this was not caused by an accidental gas leak but rather was a result of criminal negligence.
According to the post, the factory had a FRIB furnace that was used to refine Aluminium. It started malfunctioning and had to be replaced as there is a high demand for refined Aluminium in the manufacturing of cars. However, the replacement of the FRIB furnace would’ve taken 8-10 months, which in turn would’ve slowed down business.
What Atlas Honda did was replace it with an RTFfurnace, which was intended to be used for Lead refinement rather than Aluminium. Without conducting proper testing, Honda Atlas decided to try it out in the presence of factory workers on 14th November. The result was a huge explosion made by over 2600lbs (1200kg) of molten Aluminium.
The negligence wasn’t even the worst part. It was the company’s attempt to hush it up that was disappointing. The victims were given delayed medical treatments and were taken to social security hospitals with inadequate facilities. Further investigations including statements from survivors were also prevented. You can read the complete post with details here.
Quality Assurance is an essential measure that needs to be taken by every corporation even if it involves spending more on R&D. It prevents mistakes and ensures quality and safety. However, some feel the need to neglect it and that results in disastrous situations. If these allegations hold true, then it goes without saying how horrible the consequences can be when profits are valued over human lives.
However, nothing much more can be said about the matter as we don’t have access to any evidence. At the end of the post, Sharifullah said, “every word of this report is backed up by evidence”. Perhaps the evidence will only be shown to the relevant authorities to whom the report is filed.