Campaign Against Non-License Holders: A Good Effort Ruined Due To Mismanagement

karachi-traffic-police

On 2nd November, Karachi City Traffic Police started a campaign against drivers who don’t hold a valid driving license. But it sadly failed on the very first day due to the incompetence and mismanagement of the department. It was no doubt a praiseworthy effort, but it would’ve been marvelous had the concerned department properly planned so that they could tackle any unforeseen issue effortlessly.

DIG Traffic Aamir Sheikh had announced that drivers without a valid driving license will not only be fined but will also might end up in jail. This caused concern among the residents of Karachi and they marched in thousands towards the traffic offices to acquire the driving license. But as expected, the department was not prepared for the influx of those wishing to get a license. The officials accepted only a few hundred applications at the traffic offices. After that, the doors were closed to the public and they simply refused to entertain the huge crowd. This caused panic and rage among the public.

People were already unhappy about this sudden intimation from the DIG, and when traffic officials refused to cooperate, people there started to riot which was very unfortunate. At some places, people jumped over the walls of the offices to enter the premises and broke the main entrance gate at the other. Police were called to control the crowd, and as usual people were sent home after getting beaten by the police. You can image how seriousness the whole debacle when Interior Minister Sindh had to step in to postpone the DIG’s initiative. It was postponed for 15 days at first, but things got so out of hands that the duration was extended to one month.

driving license

Whatever happened in Karachi has happened, and nothing can be done about it. But who is the culprit in the whole situation. People who never bothered to get their driving licenses on time and ran towards the traffic offices at once, or the traffic police department who threatened to jail anyone caught without a driving license but didn’t bother to prepare for the sudden influx of panicking the general public. If you look at it by being impartial, it looks like maybe Department of Traffic Police is slightly more to blame than the public.

Karachi is not only the area wise biggest city of Pakistan but also by population. The total population of Karachi has exceeded well above 20 million. But the government has failed to facilitate the ever increasing needs of the City of Karachi. And same is the case with traffic department. Currently, there are approximately 3.8 million cars registered in Karachi, and unfortunately only 10 to 12 percent people have valid driving license. It was necessary to start an activity to include rest of 90% of driving population in the circle, but traffic department should have been prepared to cater the public’s demands.

After the immediate orders from Interior Minister Sindh, the DIG also realized the seriousness of the situation and finally decided to improve the traffic office operations. The weekend holidays were canceled at offices to help deal with the ever-increasing number of applications. Also, DIG ordered to increase the number of personnel at the traffic offices combined with longer working hours. Better late than never. Although we should appreciate the steps taken by the DIG, but considering the amount of people who are marching towards traffic offices, even these steps seem insufficient.

The process of acquiring a license must be simplified. This will not only help the citizens but will also be beneficial for traffic police. For example, why not ask NADRA to help make a system through which people can deposit their applications. Also there should be more banks on the panel where fee for the application can be deposited. For medical of the applicant, use different government or private hospitals instead of just the traffic offices. This will help ease the trouble of the literally thousands of the people. Those four branches of will not get all the burden of the applications.

This scheme can also be made successful by dividing the traffic into different types of vehicles. For example, make it mandatory for commercial vehicle drivers to get their licenses first. After that, the police can target the private car owners and later motorbike riders. Although this would take longer, you can’t swoosh a magic wand, or, in this case, a police baton, to fix something that has been broken for decades.

New York, a state in the United States, has the approximate population of 20 million and it has 6 traffic police centers. The capital city of India New Dehli also has the population exceeding 20 million and it has 5 traffic police centers throughout the city. In that regard, considering the ever increasing population of Karachi, there is an urgent need to fix the broken traffic police system and to increase the number of branches in Karachi as well.

Unfortunately, we have an abundance of folks who leave the tasks till the last minute habitually. And of course, traffic police cannot make them leave their homes. But indeed can improve their operations in a way to not let the situation get out of hands again.

Asad Aslam

A PakWheeler with a degree in mass communication. He tweets as @masadaslam

  • A segmented approach would’ve worked better. Like the author said, first the commercial vehicle drivers, then the private car and then the motorbikes. Also, at the time of registration of a new vehicle or the transfer of an old one, the owner should have a valid license before the application is accepted.

    Thankfully they haven’t come up yet with yearly registration / checkup for road worthiness and mandatory insurance for private vehicles like they do abroad. Imagine the chaos at the Excise and Registration Centers and the glee of the agents if that ever happens.

  • Good points. Thanks for worth addition.

  • Guest

    You have limited idea of what you are talking about. There is no need of owner to have valid driving license. It is not a requirement in any country nor it should be, otherwise it would conflict with the “right to property” clause of the constitution of each country. This requirement is absurd also, as it offers no benefit towards the purpose of driving license.

    1. Nonhuman entities can have ownership of car. Examples include company car as part of salary package. Military vehicles are owned by the ministry of defense. Leased cars are running on bank ownership. Next time you want these nonhuman entities to produce a driving license?

    2. Many overseas Pakistanis buy cars for their parents. Then their parents (who are senior citizen and many of them are invalid) hire a driver.

    3. (Physically) handicapped people have the right to ownership. But depending on their nature of handicap they may be eligible for driving license or not. Do you want to deny vehicle ownership to someone who has poor or no eyesight?

    4. Mentally handicapped people also have a right to property. Their property is given to benefactor or trustee and should be used for the benefit of the owner. But mentally challenged person is not allowed the driving license.

    5. Minors (children under 18 years of age) also have the right to property. Their property is not handed over to them until a certain age. Till that age, property technically remains in their name but the exercising authority is given to benefactor or trust. It is wholly possible that somebody may gift a car to their new-born and register it in their name. But the new-born does not have license, the trustees will hire a driver. That driver should have valid driving license.

    6. What about inheritance? Suppose somebody’s parents died and left one or more cars as inheritance. That person is invalid, handicapped or otherwise does not have or even does not want to ever drive nor wants to apply for a driving license. Instead, that person has money to hire a driver. What should the government do in this case? Deny them the right to inheritance as you say?

    7. Some people hate driving. They’d rather let others drive. Why force them to first learn driving, then obtain a driving license, only then be able to own a vehicle? They have the right to ownership. They can purchase a vehicle in their name and hire a driver, or ask some family member to drive using the authority letter or power of attorney.

    An example of all of the above is Saudi Arabia, where women can buy, own, sell and inherit cars but cannot drive.

    In addition, there is no real benefit of forcing the owner to get a driving license. The only effective measure is to make the owner take responsible of handing the keys to licensed driver. And this happens over the world if the car is caught being driven by a driver without license, the police will ask them why you have given the car to unlicensed person? In this case if the car is stolen then the owner has to agree to file a case against the driver. If the owner does not file a case, he/she is made accomplice in crime (the crime in this case is driving without license).

  • I stand corrected. Thank you for that detailed response. 🙂

  • Guest again

    Thank you for taking the criticism in a positive sense.
    You definitely have this quality.

    I have heard many people suggesting this requirement, that car owners should also have driving license. The same people believe in draconian laws, while laws are not there to make the people’s lives as painful as possible, the laws have been made to make the people’s lives as safe and comfortable as possible.

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