Several motorists were left stranded for hours as their cars broke down on flooded roads and no recovery vehicles were available to move them after heavy monsoon rains on Monday.
Some affected motorists and city police officials blamed the traffic police for their predicament, saying that they had not responded to distress calls for tow trucks to come and move vehicles that had broken down on the roads or been involved in accidents.
Traffic police officials said that they had only four tow trucks for the purpose and Monday had been a busy day for them. In any case, because of a technical problem, the trucks couldn’t tow cars without damaging them.
Anjum Shehzad got into a small accident and was then stuck on Canal Bank Road for over two hours, holding up traffic, while city police officials made calls to the traffic police to send a tow truck. “They can distribute iftari packets to motorists but cannot ensure basic facilities are available when needed,” Shehzad said, referring to the traffic police.
Sub Inspector Abbas of Mughalpura police precincts told The Express Tribune that a Mehran car and a pick-up truck involved in an accident were left in the middle of the road near the Mughulpura Underpass for around four hours while he begged the traffic police to send a tow truck.
“They kept making excuses. First they kept saying the vehicle was on its way, then they finally said they could not send a truck,” said Abbas. Eventually, police had to hire a private truck to tow the vehicles to the police station.
A police officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that it was common for traffic police to decline to send tow trucks following accidents when the city police needed to take the vehicles involved to the station. “We’ve been told that traffic police high ups do not permit them to do so. We usually have to make some sort of private arrangement,” he said. The diver of a recovery vehicle said that the technical specifications for the trucks meant they were not for use with most cars in Lahore. “The trucks have enough power to pick up mini buses. But when they are used to pull cars they sometimes end up damaging the front and the bumper,” said the driver.
He said following recent incidents where car owners who had been towed complained about damage to their vehicles, “we were advised to not to pick up cars”. He said that even if they do move cars, they only move them to the side of the road, not tow them to a garage.
City Division Traffic Superintendent of Police Mustafa Hameed Malik confirmed that the tow trucks had damaged some cars they had towed. He said that the recovery vehicles were overburdened, as there were only five tow trucks in Lahore and one of them was reserved for VVIP movement duty. He said the four other trucks were placed around the city, including two in his division at the Ravi Bridge and on The Mall.
He said that the traffic police also had 14 lifters but they were only used to move cars parked illegally as they were given very limited fuel allowances.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2011.
For more picture of the monsoon, view a slideshow here