Traffic management: ‘Bring back bigger fines for discipline’

Traffic violations up but receipts down since penalties were softened in 2009.


Anwer Sumra August 20, 2011

LAHORE:


The Punjab government has decided to restore an old law that allowed for bigger fines in an attempt to reverse the increasing rate of traffic violations, as well as a declining rate of revenue collection, official told The Express Tribune has learnt.


The Motor Vehicles Ordinance (MVO) of 2007 allowed for fines of Rs100 to Rs1,000 as well as up to a month in prison and listed a total of 37 violations. The MVO 2009 allows for fines of Rs100 to Rs300 and lists 24 traffic offences.

The Police Department had initially requested the government to restore the older ordinance, stating that the lower fines had led to an increase in the number of offences. According to police data, the traffic police issued 3.47 million tickets and collected Rs963 million in fines in 2008, when the MVO 2007 was in force. In 2010, the traffic police issued 5.13 million tickets and collected Rs876 million in fines.

On the request of the police, the Home Department has submitted a summary to the chief minister for approval and the bigger penalties will likely be restored in September, an official said on the condition of anonymity.

Before the Punjab government promulgated the MVO 2007 in July 2007, the law (MVO 2001) listed 20 traffic penalties and allowed for fines of between Rs50 and Rs100 only. As well as upping the fine and number of offences, the MVO 2007 introduced new wardens who took charge of traffic in the five biggest cities of the province. However, the harsher penalties were met with protests and the government issued the MVO 2009 with its lower fines.

Under the MVO 2007, motorcyclists could be fined Rs100-300, personal vehicles Rs200-1,000 and commercial vehicles Rs750-1,000. The penalties for seven offences included up to a month in jail. These were: exceeding the permissible limit for number of passengers in a public transport vehicle, speeding, violating traffic signals, reckless driving, juvenile driving, one-wheeling and driving without a fitness certificate. It also introduced new offences, including allowing the use of a personal vehicle by an unlicensed driver, one-wheeling, riding a bike without a safety helmet, pillion riding with more than two people and using the phone while driving.

The inspector general of Punjab Police said that the previous heavy fines had proved a strong deterrent and had also been good for revenue.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a traffic warden said that motorists had started behaving worse after the MVO 2007 was replaced because they no longer feared paying heavy fines. “Scuffles between traffic violators used to be rare but they have become quite common now,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2011.

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