KARACHI: The Karachi police chief, AIG Ghulam Qadir Thebo, has suggested installing trackers in all new motorcycles to curb crime and terrorist activities in the city. The suggestion was met with indignation by motorcyclists, most of whom belong to the lower-income groups and would not be able to afford the costly gadget.
Meanwhile, tracker companies are rejoicing. Business worth over Rs3 billion awaits them over the next few months if all goes according to plan.
Karachi police spokesperson Atiq Shaikh said they had already contacted the excise and motor vehicle department, suggesting them not to issue number plates to any motorcycles without a tracker device.
According to Dr Uneb Gazdar, an assistant professor at the NED University's department of urban and infrastructure engineering, a total of 199,082 motorcycles were registered in Karachi in the year 2014 alone. The cost of a simple tracking device that can be fit into a motorcycle is around Rs20,000, revealed Irfan, a salesman at E-Drive Technology, one of the tracker companies operating in the city.
Gazdar believes that for the scheme to be successful, the government will have to heavily subsidise the tracking devices. At the current rate, the trackers will not be affordable for the middle-income group, which according to him comprises most of the motorcyclists. "Considering the number of motorcycles, even a subsidy of just 10 per cent will cost millions of rupees. The same money can be spent on developing and regularising the public transport system, which will resolve many issues such as congestion, parking and pollution," he suggested. He added, however, that the implementation of this recommendation was also necessary due to the law and order situation in the city. "In which case, the financial part becomes irrelevant since motorcycles are used in many serious crimes," he pointed out.
For his part, the excise department secretary, Dr Badar Jameel Mandro, denied having received any formal recommendation from the Karachi police.
He added, however, that if they received any such orders, they will implement it immediately. "Our job is to issue the number plates," he said. "And only those motorcycle owners will be issued number plates who submit the tracker slip along with their documents."
According to Anti-Car Lifting Cell (ACLC) SSP Irfan Qadir, AIG Thebo's suggestion will be a great help in curbing motorcycle theft. "We will have proper data of the motorcycles as well as the tracking companies with which they are registered," he said.
SSP Qadir explained that tracking companies are now using the latest technology to ensure that the devices cannot be unplugged. "Motorcycles have around seven secret pockets, where the tracker can be fitted," he revealed, adding that even if the tracker was somehow detached, the tracking system would help the police ascertain the last location of the snatcher, with which they can get the idea of their direction. "This usually helps us in recovering cars."
Regarding the cost of the tracker, he was of the opinion that a simple motorcycle tracker costs no more than Rs5,000, which includes the SMS and alarm service. The motorcyclist can, on the other hand, avail added security features which would make the cost higher.
"The other services include anti-jammer, web access, route deviation and ambulance and police assistance," he explained, adding that annual monitoring fee is also paid to the tracker companies.
Rameez, a motorcycle dealer in Akbar Market in Saddar, revealed that there were several enterprises in the market that deal in tracking devices.
At these shops, a simple tracker device costs around Rs6,000, which includes the fitting charges.
Rameez was of the opinion that if the installation of trackers was made mandatory by the government, the cost of a motorcycle will increase by Rs6,000 to Rs7,000.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2015.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ