LAHORE: The Punjab Highway Patrol (PHP) is likely to take up traffic management across the province as an additional duty besides dealing with criminal activities on roads.
A senior police officer told The Express Tribune that a meeting of the PHP top brass would be held this week to discuss the implementation of the plan.
The option is being considered keeping in view an increase in road accidents. According to a rescue official, accidents took place almost every day during last year and the total number reported in the province was 650. During the current year, the figure has risen to 750.
Mostly, the district traffic police monitored traffic violations in urban centres, said the police officer. “There is a need for a disciplined and resourceful force that can effectively control traffic on main roads outside cities too,” he said while explaining the main idea behind the plan.
“The PHP has managed road traffic in the past too. Assigning the highway police this role once again will definitely help decrease road accidents,” he said.
The officer explained that in June 2012 the powers of traffic enforcement and penalties were withdrawn from the PHP and handed back to the Punjab traffic police. The step was taken after field officers contended that traffic management should be reverted to ‘traffic police’ because the separate cadre for the purpose already existed. The officer added that after a few months the force again started traffic management on 12 roads.
Under the new plan, the PHP will monitor traffic management throughout Punjab through its posts.
Sharing a brief history of the PHP and its responsibilities, the officer said that in 2004, the highway police were introduced to curb crimes on highways and help people trapped in emergency situations. “Considering the admirable performance of the PHP in dealing with crimes, a proposal to assign them duties of traffic management was considered.”
At present, the PHP is managing traffic on 12 roads across the province. In 2008, the then inspector general of police approved a pilot project for traffic management on the Lahore-Sheikhupura-Faisalabad Road.
The following year, Tariq Saleem Dogar, the then Punjab IGP, approved nine more roads for traffic management. They included the Kasur-Depalpur, Gujranwala-Sialkot, Wazirabad-Sialkot, Kohat-Rawalpindi (GT Road), Sargodha-Mianwali, Faisalabad-Jhang, Multan-Vehari and Bahawalpur-Hasilpur roads and the N-55 Indus Highway in Dera Ghazi Khan.
Later in the same year, Muridkey-Narowal and Lahore-Kasur Road traffic management was handed over to the PHP. The force was also equipped with vehicle cutters, speed checking cameras, movie cameras, digital still cameras and blinkers to perform traffic duties. A Mobile Education Unit to impart awareness to citizens about traffic rules was also established.
The officer said the PHP was empowered to monitor 23 traffic violation and issue challans for them. But majority of the violations usually dealt by the PHP on the main roads pertained to speeding, overloading, overtaking, wrong parking by buses etc.
When contacted, PHP DIG Ghulam Mehmood Dogar said a study was being carried out about handing over traffic management duties to his department, but a final decision had not been taken so far.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 11th, 2017.