ISLAMABAD: At age 25, one of Ali’s* childhood passions cost him a leg.
“The moment I learnt that my leg would have to be amputated was more painful than the moment I hit a truck on Murree Road after slipping from my bike while wheeling,” Ali told The Express Tribune.
He was taken to the Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) Department of Orthopedic Surgery, where doctors found he had suffered nerve damage in his leg.
To him it seems like punishment for lying to his parents. “Once, my father questioned about my ‘extracurricular activities’, but I just lied. I was scared they would ground me and my friends would make fun of me,” he said.
His parents consider themselves partly responsible for failing to keep an eye on their oldest son’s activities. “He used to tell us that he was going for tuition when he was going to do all this. We cannot afford to get a prosthetic limb for him, but at the same time, we cannot bear seeing him bedridden,” said Razia* his mother.
According to public hospitals, the number of motorcycle accidents is increasing in the city with each passing day. On average, over 45 motorbike accident cases are brought to Benazir Bhutto Hospital every day, 25 to Holy Family Hospital and 35 to District Headquarter Hospital, up from about 60-80 just a couple of years back.
Dr Junaid Abbasi, medical officer at the BBH Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, said majority of motorbike accident injuries admitted in the department are caused due to wheeling, overloading or speeding. He said a majority of cases are serious injuries and fractures. Head injuries are also very common, and usually lead to death on the spot.
“The hospital has received many young patients who suffered serious injuries while wheeling and we had to amputate their legs,” he said. Prosthetic limbs for many are but a dream, as they cost an upward of Rs100,000.
Chief Traffic Officer Senior Superintendent of Police Ghulam Abbas Tarar said the traffic and district police are making all out efforts to control wheeling.
But they also have to make sure that they do not put these amateur stuntmen at a greater risk of accidents. “We avoid chasing them or putting any barrier in their way with the fear that they will start speeding [and get into an accident] when they see policemen coming after them,” he said.
The hot spots for wheeling and other stunts are Airport Road, Jehlum Road, Ayub Road and Murree Road, though other major roads are also not immune to the menace. Most of the youngsters do wheeling on weekends when the volume of traffic is low on these roads,” he said.
He said that every month they issue over 80,000 fines and register more than 20 FIRs. His advice for parents was to keep a strict eye on all youngsters having bikes without mudguards, while opining that “there should be a separate area for legal wheeling, where they can only get entry after getting a permission certificate from their parents.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2012.