The City Traffic Police have yet to complete a regular inquiry into the corruption of three traffic wardens of Ravi Road Traffic Sector who were suspended on May 22, 2012, on the charge of misappropriating payments of tickets issued to traffic violators.
Lahore Chief Traffic Officer Dr Usman Anwar had suspended three traffic wardens, identified as Yasir, Ayesha and Muneeba Murad, on the initial inquiry report of the SP Traffic City Division. The regular inquiry into the issue was handed over to DSP Lines Shahzad Khan but the inquiry officer had not yet completed the probe.
However, sources told The News that the corruption of traffic wardens has been proved during the inquiry and they have also deposited Rs220,000 collectively as compensation of losses to the exchequer. They said that the accused traffic wardens had adopted a sophisticated modus operandi of corruption to mint the public money. As per standing operating procedure (SOP), the ticketing officer is bound to send the unpaid tickets along with documents of violators to the local magistrate if the violator fails to pay fine in the banks within 10 days of the issuing date. The local magistrate charges the violator double fee as per rules and on the payment of the fine, the documents are returned to the violator. However, the accused wardens used to keep issued tickets even after the lapse of 10 days.
The new modus operandi adopted by the accused was that the violator first had to visit the sector office to be told by the ticketing officer that his documents had been sent to the court. The violator then had to go to court only to find no record or documents there and he, once again, visited sector office where the ticketing officer used to suggest him to visit his office in the evening. Thus, the ticketing officer, in connivance with other staff of sector office, used to receive double fee from traffic rules violators. The audit officer of the city traffic police, also called monitoring officer, noted this corruption as the ticket numbers in the register of the record did not match with the register.
The sources further told this correspondent that such kind of corruption was rampant in the City Traffic Police as the maintenance of traffic ticket payments was manual and tallying every register with the other was very difficult. They further said that as the audit officers and ticketing officers were of the same rank, there were chances of conniving with audit officers. A senior officer of the City Traffic Police (CTP) also disclosed that the fork lifters were also involved in misappropriating the ticket payments. They issued blue and yellow leaves from the ticket book to violators instead of issuing the original white paper. They submit fine of a complete ticket book at the respective office and mint money through blue and yellow leaves of the ticket book.
The story does not end here as a traffic warden, named Tallat, was also captured while taking money from violators in the Model Town sector by changing the violation codes. He used to charge heavy fines to violators through violation codes and later submit books with different violation codes. A case was also registered against the accused traffic warden under Section 409 of PPC with Model Town Police Station a couple of weeks back. Moreover, sources in traffic police told The News that another traffic warden, Mubashar, was captured red-handed in Mozang as he was involved in the embezzlement of over Rs 200,000. However, he got himself exonerated after depositing Rs40,000 to the CTP. This warden was neither suspended nor was any regular inquiry held against him due to the reasons best known to the commander of the CTP. A traffic warden said that the embezzlement in ticket payments could only be stopped by computerising all the records. He further said that a senior audit officer, along with a subordinate, should be deputed in every traffic circle to end corruption.
The sources also claimed that wardens and officers of the City Traffic Police, established to replicate Motorway Police, were not only involved in financial corruption but it was also touching heights of ‘moral corruption.’ They said that some cops engage lady traffic wardens on cell phones and keep them busy in sending and receiving SMS instead of performing their duties. In the past, a couple of wardens were also captured in the compromising condition and inquiries were also held against them but such activities have once again shot up.
DSP Lines Shahid Khan, when contacted by this correspondent on phone, confirmed that the inquiry into the corruption of three wardens of the Ravi Sector was still pending and would be completed within three to four days. He added that though he could not tell the details of the inquiry, the findings were going against wardens. About the recovery of Rs220,000, the DSP said that the amount had been recovered on the charges of negligence not embezzlement. To a question, he said the complete record of the CTP was being computerised phase-wise at the Police Lines Thokar Niaz Baig. He ruled out the connivance of audit officers with ticketing officers, saying the audit officers reported every kind of negligence to the seniors. About other incidents of corruption, the DSP said that he was not aware of them. Efforts were also made to contact the chief traffic officer but his operator said that Saab was busy.