Mayhem at driving licence offices as citizens react to traffic police warning

Published: November 3, 2015
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The licence branch at Nazimabad closed its gates to the public as hundreds thronged to the office to apply for their licences in the wake of the traffic police’s warning. PHOTO: ONLINE

The licence branch at Nazimabad closed its gates to the public as hundreds thronged to the office to apply for their licences in the wake of the traffic police’s warning. PHOTO: ONLINE

KARACHI: 

The traffic police’s announcement of drastic action against drivers without licences seems to have backfired as the three licence branches in the city — Korangi, Nazimabad and Clifton — failed to cope with the sudden rush of citizens vying for driving licences. Subsequently, the police and Rangers had to be called in to manage the increasingly restless crowd.

Taking notice of the incident, Sindh home minister Sohail Anwar Sial and Police IG Ghulam Hyder Jamali ordered to extend the deadline to apply for licences for one month. The IG added that all traffic violations will be dealt with in accordance with the existing laws. Traffic DIG Amir Ahmed Shaikh warned on Saturday the residents of Karachi of the impending crackdown that was supposed to start from Monday morning. The DIG had revealed that 15 checkpoints would be set up for the purpose, where traffic DSPs and section officers, along with inspectors and sub-inspectors, will perform their duties from 11am to 1pm and then from 9pm to 11pm.

Traffic police to arrest people driving without a licence

According to the press statements issued by Shaikh’s office, the traffic police have the authority to arrest drivers under Section 99 of the Motor Vehicle Ordinance (MVO). Shaikh’s reader, Muhammad Idrees, told The Express Tribune that driving without a licence amounted to negligence and it usually became the cause of fatalities in vehicular accidents.

He added that drivers of commercial vehicles without licences could be put behind bars for a maximum of two years, whereas drivers of private vehicles could be sent to jail for a maximum of one year.

Idrees’ claims were negated by Advocate Abdullah Nizamani, who said that the use of MVO’s Section 99 to arrest drivers without licences was inappropriate. He said that MVO Section 99 could only be employed in cases of dangerous driving, which could harm others.

Traffic police target school vans with substandard CNG cylinders

Mismanagement

On Saturday, licence department DIG Aftab Pathan had claimed that licence department had the capacity to cater to any number of people who sought the driver’s licence. His claims were laid bare on Monday morning as work in all three licence branches of the city came to a standstill and hundreds of people had to go back with empty forms.

One of the applicants seeking a driver’s licence at the Clifton Branch, Aslam Rafique, told The Express Tribune that he had reached the office at 9am but couldn’t manage to get inside. “The guards at the gates pushed me back,” he said, adding that a large crowd had thronged the office.

“When I somehow managed to get hold of the form, I was asked by the official to come back at 4pm,” he said, adding that at 4pm, an official stamped his form and asked him to come again on November 15.

Sindh police grants one-month extension in driving licence crackdown

Laying blame

For his part, DIG Pathan reasoned that it wasn’t his fault if thousands of people, who had not got their licences in the past 15 years, had thronged his office at once and started protesting. “I will naturally call the Rangers to disperse the crowd,” he said.

When asked why they didn’t make prior arrangements in anticipation of the crowd that was expected, DIG Pathan blamed the traffic DIG for failing to give much notice. “I had personally asked him (DIG Shaikh) before the crackdown to give at least 15 days’ time, but he didn’t,” he said. DIG Shaikh did not respond to repeated calls.

In order facilitate the large number of applicants at the driving licence branches, DIG Pathan said they have extended their office timings. “The office will also remain open on Saturdays and Sundays,” he said adding that on Sunday only, students would be facilitated, whereas Fridays would be reserved for women and elderly citizens.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 3rd, 2015.

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Reader Comments (4)

  • Jude Allen
    Nov 3, 2015 - 2:30PM

    and having a drivers license will guarantee safe driving? Oh really? and may the DIG traffic please clarify what will happen to all those commercial vehicle drivers on drugs who got their drivers license by BRIBING officials at the license office? What safe driving guarantees to we get for that? Please Mr. DIG Traffic, please go and buy 250 gms of common sense and have it uploaded into your tiny little non functional brain and get more practical. If you want to see safe driving, TERMINATE all the government staff at the driving license office and sub contract it to private companies who will do a great job with 100% transparency in their operations. Stop fooling the citizens of Karachi with these Quick Scams. Recommend

  • asim
    Nov 3, 2015 - 3:05PM

    Another route for our police to take bribes openly from the public. I have a license and I agree everyone driving a license should have one, but 1 year jail sentence for not having one. Daily i see traffic jams and public breaking the law right in front of the traffic police while they are busy gathering funds for their own pockets. Yes, some of the must be doing their jobs properly but majority isn’t as otherwise we would not be seeing heavy traffic within city before 8pm. But, what a joke 1 year jail for not having a license while all other criminal roam free. What a justice system our country has, do i say more.Recommend

  • Ali S
    Nov 3, 2015 - 6:18PM

    No point of having a driving license if you have to bribe your way to get one. And it’s not going to make Karachi’s roads any safer. Stricter penalties on breaking road traffic rules and having functional traffic lights (many parts of Gulshan and Johar have malfunctioning traffic signals) will.Recommend

  • Jude Allen
    Nov 3, 2015 - 10:03PM

    There is a forum called Police Corruption, Pakistan recently opened on Facebook which I would strongly recommend you follow and contribute. There is so much positive change that we as a civil society can bring about if we channel our stand with synergy, By the way, I am planning to write a really nasty letter to the DIG traffic. Recommend

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