The swipe to beat the bribe surfaces in e-licences

Published: October 4, 2012
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Traffic officials will use PDAs to access driving records on the spot۔ DESIGN: FAIZAN DAWOOD

Traffic officials will use PDAs to access driving records on the spot۔ DESIGN: FAIZAN DAWOOD

KARACHI: 

As part of its e-licencing project, the Karachi traffic police will soon be equipped with handheld devices to swipe licences if a driver breaks the law. The driver’s entire record will appear in seconds and there will be nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

“When a police officer swipes your card and finds more violations than the law permits, then your licence will be withheld,” warns provincial minister for information technology, Raza Haroon, who has been involved with the developments.

The fines will be recorded at a central database and can be paid at a bank. If you show the receipt, the record will be removed.

There has been slow progress on the new system. Work started in 2008 and has so far eaten up Rs54 million. A local company, Micro-Innovations and Technologies, has been given the contract to put the system in place.

Traffic violations are rarely prosecuted in Pakistan, principally because no centralised computer database of licenced drivers exists. The ideal database would have information about traffic violations committed by each licence holder and the fines they have paid.

At the heart of the matter, however, are the licences themselves, which should allow traffic police officials to instantly access a person’s records on a computer. The Sindh police, along with the provincial information technology department, have made this the driving force behind their e-licencing project.

This will also help deal with the issue of fake licences, added Additional Inspector General Traffic Zakir Hussain.

The e-licencing project is expected to provide some semblance of relief to overworked traffic cops. However, there is always the possibility that the constable would try to bargain for a bribe.

The minister said that he was aware of the dilemma. “No one can guarantee that the person behind the computer is entering the data correctly, or if he is swiping the card [or not],” said Haroon. “This depends on the integrity of the officer.”

The new licences

Additional Inspector General Traffic Zakir Hussain explains that they are trying to cut out the agent outside the licence office. “It will be like a passport office, and [serve people] on a first-come-first-served basis,” he explained. The driving licence centres have been renovated to create space for new hardware, counters and desks. You will provide your information and have your photographs taken at the licence office. An on-site doctor will perform a quick medical checkup. You would pay the fees at a post office and sit the two written tests on general driving etiquette and traffic rules. The tests will take place on touch-screen computers at the license office, and each will consist of 15 questions.

As soon as you finish the touch-screen test, you will know if you have passed or failed. Next comes the “physical” or driving test. If you pass that, you receive an e-licence in the mail.

The driving licence office in Korangi is the only branch that is currently offering e-licences. Clifton and Nazimabad are next. While licence offices continue to issue paper permits, those with access to the computerised system will provide e-licences for anyone who comes in for a renewal.

The project’s central control room would be located at the Clifton branch. Licence offices in Hyderabad and Sukkur will also be connected to the centralised system, and AIG Hussain hopes that the system would then be expanded into Larkana and the rest of the province.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 4th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • Sid
    Oct 4, 2012 - 5:34AM

    This is an amazing step on part of the concerned authorities i just prat its not all hog wash and the 54 million disappears. Rule of law. Power to the police is the only way to go. Best pf luck.

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  • getbacktowork
    Oct 4, 2012 - 5:42AM

    excellent

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  • Sunny
    Oct 4, 2012 - 7:34AM

    Excellent !!

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  • Dr. Doolittle
    Oct 4, 2012 - 9:24AM

    I hope this system does not suffer the same fate as the CC cameras on the roads.

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  • Oct 4, 2012 - 10:23AM

    If necessary controls on traffic police personnel are not placed, then imagine a scenario wherein you are being threatened to ‘pay’ or your license is going to be swiped!

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  • Wahaj Shaikh
    Oct 4, 2012 - 10:25AM

    soon u will hear news, “police victim of street crime”Recommend

  • Citizen
    Oct 4, 2012 - 11:00AM

    The driving license branch in Nelum Colony, Karachi should be moved to a better location. The branch is in road wide enough for only one car to go through and the entire road is broken.. has been that way for years. Cars are not parked in accordance to the highway code and Im sure it breaches every rule and regulation. Start with your Driving License offices then target the public.

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  • Talha
    Oct 4, 2012 - 12:02PM

    Its a good step but we all forget that first we need to get our basics straight….period!!!

    Our Traffic Officers are not fully trained (thanks to our system), not well versed and not well dressed….nobody bothers to stop when they want to pull you over cuz everybody knows that they are not stopping you for violating law but only wants to lighten your wallet. I know for sure that with the current situation all the ipads (as the photo suggests) will be either sold or will be used by the Officer’s kids.

    Please train them on International Standards first!!!

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  • Oct 4, 2012 - 12:47PM

    Screenshot shows Windows 2000 app running in an iPad.

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  • Zk
    Oct 4, 2012 - 1:34PM

    54 million?! This is such a joke….just put Rs 50 in the pocket of the police wala on duty and never get your card checked/retained :P

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  • Khalq e Khuda
    Oct 4, 2012 - 1:38PM

    Wait till the police gets mugged for their ipads.

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  • zeeshan sheikh
    Oct 4, 2012 - 2:35PM

    now I have to apply for the driving license :(

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  • non-sense
    Oct 4, 2012 - 3:53PM

    Technology is not at all the solution. First we have to educate the Nation that for what the roads and pavements are, why there is Zebra crossing… and either Driver should stop when he/she see a pedestrian on the road or board him/her to last flight of the life.

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  • AKPK
    Oct 4, 2012 - 4:11PM

    Guys! what if criminals snatch those PDAs. I think There will be need of security department to for the safety. :) See how jobs are created to compensate JIYALAS…

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  • ullo
    Oct 4, 2012 - 5:40PM

    Why not use the existing NADRA database and link your dirving licence, medical records, vehincle ownership, land ownership, tax records etc etc with your CNIC rather than re-inventing the wheel? Use handheld devices to access the data from the main NADRA source rather than creating too many databases….?

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  • Oct 4, 2012 - 8:25PM

    There is no such thing as a PDA anymore. They’re called smart phones now. Try and keep up with the times!

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  • anonymous
    Oct 4, 2012 - 11:44PM

    “in other news, the police has decided to exchange all Tablets for Nokia 1100s after being repeatedly mugged at gun point…”

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  • naushad
    Oct 5, 2012 - 9:18AM

    54 million?! This is such a joke….just put Rs 50 in the pocket of the police wala on duty and never get your card SWIPED/checked/retained

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  • anon
    Oct 5, 2012 - 10:00AM

    Seriously – you think this will work if you wave a note in front of the police face – why not invest in some other sector like education instead

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  • Aashish
    Oct 5, 2012 - 5:18PM

    this is an amazing idea because this would help the controlling authorities to take a prompt action against the people breaking law…..!
    so all the best….

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