Traffic Police awareness campaign: Public blames bad traffic on bad cops
By Shahnawaz Khan
LAHORE The public has criticised the recently started awareness campaign by the Punjab Traffic Police, saying that no campaign can be effective until and unless the police officials themselves obey the law, according to a Daily Times survey.
Daily Times conducted a survey on Thursday to determine public’s view about the campaign and found that most people believe that police officials must be role models when asking the public to follow traffic rules.
“Officials who are trying to implement a law are themselves its violators. Many policemen drive private cars and motorcycles with fancy number plates with the police department’s blue and red seals,” said MR Jan, a Lahore High Court advocate, while pointing towards a policeman’s motorcycle parked on a busy road in front of the Punjab Assembly Hall.
The Traffic Police has started the campaign to inform people about the importance of traffic rules. Policemen are asking drivers to obey the line and lane rules and not to jump signals. They are also asking people to remove fancy and coloured number plates and replace them with ones described in the Motor Vehicles Ordinance that says the registration number of a vehicle must be written in simple white letters on a black plate.
National Highway and Motorway Senior Superintendent of Police Mian Muhammad Asif Police said the Motor Vehicles Ordinance completely describes the model of number plates of vehicles. “According to the law, number plates should be on a plain black surface and numbers should be written in white,” he said.
Asked if constables were exempted from the law, Mr Asif said: “No, a police officer when uses a fancy number plate for his vehicle is an offender and must be issued a ticket for his offence.”
Mr Jan, while describing Pakistan as a police state, said the “Might is right” formula still prevails in the country even after more than half a century of independence. “Here police officials are not ready to obey the law for which they have been hired by the state,” he added.
“Not only the police but all government authorities should obey their legislated rules first and then they should think to impose them on the citizens,” said Mr Jan.
He went on to say that every politician, critic, mentor and bureaucrat used to define traffic as a yardstick for a nation’s discipline “but unfortunately a majority of them forget their words even when they leave the speech venue”.
He observed that the traffic situation in Lahore was worse than any other city, especially in densely populated areas. “People violate traffic rules either because of the traffic officials’ negligence or their malpractice. And I believe that the supervising authorities are responsible for traffic problems because they have no effective check on their subordinates,” Mr Jan said.
“Traffic police officials misbehave with public in the city, especially with people who come form rural areas and are not well aware of traffic rules. Sometimes they also try to thrash innocent people just to take bribes, because everybody believes that he can settle his offence with the policeman by offering him nazrana – currency notes,” said Muhammad Rizwan, a trader in Azam Cloth Market.
He said one could see several police constables beating donkey-cart drivers with wooden sticks in the General Bus Stand, Sherankot and Circular Road areas.
“When somebody refuse to bribe a constable, he starts threatening him with a ticket describing several offences. They usually fine a violator more than their demanded nazrana if he denies to bribe them,” he said, adding therefore people are in the habit of bribing policemen to save money and time.
Daily Times tried to contact Traffic Superintendent of Police Chaudhry Faisal for his comments on the public views, but his peon said: “Mr Faisal is giving an interview to a television channel so you will have to contact him tomorrow.”