KARACHI: In case of any major terrorist activity, police vehicles will escape scrutiny as none of the 6,200 vehicles that have been bought since 2006 have been registered.
Official sources have revealed that the police department bought 2,200 four-wheel vehicles and 4,000 motorcycles but failed to register them with the motor vehicle registration wing of the Sindh excise and taxation department. Furthermore, the police doesn’t even pay the motor vehicle tax (MVT) for their registered vehicles, sources claimed, adding that the police owe the taxation department around Rs40 million.
“Recently, a fleet of motorcycles were purchased by the police but they are running without licence plates and just say ‘Sindh Police’,” said the director of the motor vehicle registration wing, Dabir Ahmed, while talking to The Express Tribune. Sources said that despite several reminders the police are either refusing to comment on the issue or claiming that they have a shortage of funds so they cannot pay taxes. The police department has not been paying any taxes since 2002 for various vehicles, including vans, cars, armoured personnel carriers, Land Cruisers, Pajeros, trucks, buses and vans, said Ahmed.
“Normally, we charge Rs1,000 for a car less than 1000cc. It starts from Rs1,000 to Rs5,000.” According to sources from the excise department, their department tries to take action against defaulters and it carried out a campaign from March 2 to March 10, when they earned Rs4 million in revenue and issued tickets to 500 vehicles. “We cannot do much when high-ranking police officials use vehicles with missing licence plates,” the sources added. A senior police officer, believed to be a close associate of President Zardari, requested the Sindh chief minister to give him the same car as the IGP when he became the DIG traffic, sources said, adding that the chief minister approved the request and bought him a Land Cruiser worth Rs5.3 million.
The officer used this car without a licence plate and refused to return it to the traffic department when he was later posted as additional IGP. “There is no record of the vehicles so we cannot take action against them,” sources said. When the additional IGP, Dost Muhammad Baloch, was contacted, he defended his position by saying that they have started using their own number series and do not need to register wtih the excise department. This issue was also brought up at a recent meeting between the chief secretary and officials of the home department, he added. “I think the police will continue registering vehicles on its own and will later pay the finance department directly,” said Baloch.
According to Muhammad Hanif Moosa, deputy chief Citizens-Police Liaison Committee, the issue of vehicles running without registration is sensitive. “We face lots of difficulty identifying vehicles if they have not been registered with the excise department,” he said, “We have to trace the chassis number provided by the manufacturer in order to ascertain the owner of the vehicle.” Currently, around 1.2 million four-wheel vehicles and one million two-wheel vehicles, such as motorcycles and rickshaws are being used in the city. “We update the data regularly and can trace them within two minutes but it is difficult for those, which are not registered.”
Published in the Express Tribune, May 15th, 2010.