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‘5m vehicles, 10,000km of roads and fewer cops among Karachi’s traffic challenges’

Karachi

May 24, 2019

The Karachi Traffic Police despite limited resources are making efforts to ensure a smooth flow of traffic on a road network of 10,000 kilometres.

Talking to The News, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Javed Ali Mehar, chief of the Karachi Traffic Police, said on Thursday that before discussing the traffic police responsibilities and enforcement of rules, we should know the dynamics of Karachi.

The city is spread over an area of 3,500 square kilometres approximately and has a road network of 10,000 kilometres. The number of vehicles registered daily is more than 1,500m, and there are about five million registered vehicles. Every day, about 200,000 vehicles, including 112,000 heavy vehicles, enter or exit from the city.

DIG Mehar said the traffic police are divided into seven districts with 88 traffic sections, i.e. 14 in District South, 12 in City, 14 in District East, 19 in District West, 10 in District Central, 12 in District Malir and 7 in District Korangi, with an available strength of 7,291 officers, who include a DIG, SSPs and DSPs and have only 960 challaning officers for the city.

Despite the limited strength and resources, the Karachi Traffic Police have challaned 1,210,077 vehicles and imposed fines totalling Rs282,692,650 and recovered fine amounts of Rs257,603,250.

DIG Mehar said that this year, they have also impounded vehicles for violating traffic rules, and these vehicles include 254 Qingqi rickshaws, 12,587 rickshaws with extra seats, and 237,488 other vehicles, and arrested 7,511 drivers for violating traffic laws.

The traffic police have also conducted a special campaign for implementing laws, which include laws against one-way violations, riding motorbikes without helmets, driving by juveniles, signal- jumping, fancy number plates, driving without seatbelts and vehicles driven with an open letter, and also challaned 4,758 school vans and intercity buses using CNG cylinders. DIG Mehar said that since January 1, 2019 there have been 71 fatal accidents in which 84 people have been killed, while in non-fatal accidents 99 people have been injured.

He said pedestrian fatal accidents constitute 25.35 percent of all fatal accidents, non-fatal pedestrian accidents constitute 29.41 percent of all non-fatal accidents, and the high percentage of pedestrian fatal and non-fatal accidents can he attributed to inadequate planning and engineering for the pedestrians.

According to DIG Mehar, the city has a very few pedestrian bridges to cater to the need of the pedestrians. Footpaths are not properly designed for pedestrians and at many places they do not exist. Zebra crossing should be marked by the City District Government Karachi, especially on busy roads near business centres, schools and hospitals. Awareness of traffic rules amongst the citizens of Karachi could be a major factor in reduction in accidents.

He said that motorcyclists were involved in 64.78 percent of the total fatal accidents and 58.82 percent of non-fatal accidents in 2019. In most of the fatal accidents, riders succumbed to head injuries as they failed to wear helmets, which is also a major factor behind their deaths, he added.

Moreover, mini-buses and coaches were responsible for 25 percent of fatal accidents involving pedestrian accidents. Trucks, water and oil tankers were responsible for 35 percent, and buses were responsible for pedestrian fatal accidents. These three categories alone constitute 60 percent of accidents involving pedestrian fatal accidents. Twenty-five percent of mini-buses and 25 percent of trucks were involved in accidents causing injury.

DIG Javed Ali Mehar said an awareness programme would be launched among the public so they are aware of the traffic laws and by-laws. It was noticed that most of the roads of Karachi had no footpaths and where there was one it had been occupied by encroachers, and members of public were forced to walk on roads, which was a major cause of deaths of pedestrians.

He added that in few cases most of the city drivers do not possess driving licences, and whenever caught drivers of buses, trucks or dumpers fail to produce a licence.

The DIG traffic said that they were also trying to develop information of heavy vehicles and drivers and recently he had warned the owners of public transport to give the traffic department complete bio-data of their drivers.

Major factors behind traffic accidents were violations of traffic rules and at some roads there were technical and engineering faults, he said, adding that they were planning a meeting to resolve the issue.

Accidents also occur when people cross major thoroughfares instead of using pedestrian bridges. Moreover, lane-jumping, signal violations, refusing to stop at stop lines are among other factors.

On a query why the practice had been stopped under which in the late 90s traffic officers visited schools and colleges and informed the students about the traffic laws, and programs were announced in various schools where officers of the traffic police would guide the students, DIG Mehar said he had again started the same process of teaching the students of schools and colleges, which was also a part of their awareness programme.

He added that they were also planning to reorganise the Karachi Transport Technical School and it was also helpful to educate the general public and public transport drivers about the traffic laws.

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