If you happen to drive from Teen Talwar to Fawara Chowk, you may come across traffic policemen wearing new grey uniforms and a big smile.
This is because the traffic department has changed the colour of the uniform to give the policemen a fresh start. “The old white uniform has become a symbol of corruption,” said Karachi police chief AIG Ghulam Qadir Thebo. The department is also making the policemen attend trainings on having a positive attitude and talking politely to citizens.
According to Thebo, he moved the proposal nearly a year ago in which he demanded the authorities change the uniform to a white shirt and grey trousers. However, what they ended up with were completely grey uniforms.
Initially, the uniforms will be worn by the policemen deployed on Corridor III, which comprises the main road going from Teen Talwar all the way to Fawara Chowk, including Sharae Faisal, said Thebo. After this initial deployment of 10 days, the police will take feedback from the citizens and then extend the programme to the rest of the city.
These changes are all part of Thebo’s plans to revamp the police structure. “With the new colour, we pledge zero corruption and no bribe,” he promised. He added that they will ensure that the traffic police change their behaviour towards the citizen and become friendly. The officials will continue to monitor them. “We will also bring in the new and young blood in the force with new incentives,” he said.
The wives of the traffic constables are definitely happier with the new uniforms. “I was sick and tired of washing my husband’s white khakis every day,” admitted Sadia, wife of Tipu Sultan traffic police station’s head council, Jawed Ahmed. “No matter how expensive the washing powder, I could never get rid of the dusty stains.”
The constables would get Rs120 a month as washing allowance for their crisp white uniforms, pointed out a traffic constable on the condition of anonymity. “Tell me which washing powder in the city costs Rs120?” he asked, smiling.
The constable had been serving the traffic department for the last 25 years and has yet to see any significant changes in their institution. “The government should change the structure of the police hospital before changing the colour of our khakis,” he said.
Sadia’s husband Ahmed also had his reservations with the new uniforms as they felt their meagre salaries should be a bigger concern for the department. “It would have been better if the government had increased our salaries, rather than providing us new uniforms,” he said.
Traffic DIG Amir Shaikh assured that they are offering new incentives along with the new uniforms. With every challan or fine that the constable records, 15% of the amount of the fine will be added to his salary, he explained, adding that he has included this proposition in his list of recommendations to the chief minister.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th, 2015.