Traffic police turn blind eye to minibus roof racks

Karachi: Karachi traffic police have launched a drive against the violation of traffic rules; however, they have turned the blind eye towards the illegal roof-racks of minibuses, dangerously overloaded with commuters.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan months back had instructed the Sindh administration to remove the roof racks from the minibuses of Karachi, but this instruction was thrown behind the back by haughty bureaucracy. On every road of the city, minibuses with dozens of commuters sitting on their roofs are seen plying with impunity. In most cases the traffic cops of duty simply ignore this grave violation of traffic rules. In some cases the traffic cops stop these minibuses but let them go after getting a small bribe. In rare cases such minibuses are challaned and fined a meagre Rs500, which the transporters gladly pay as they earn thousands of rupees per trip only from passengers overloaded on rooftops of their minibuses.

Travelling on rooftops of minibuses is very dangerous and commuters often lose life and limbs after falling from the roofs of recklessly running minibuses. However, these cases are often hushed up with no serious action against the violators.

Karachi traffic police recently have made a miracle by standardizing the number plates of motorcycles in the city. Now almost 99percent motorcycles in the city have standard white colored number plates with the registration number painted in blue colour. This great effort shows that the Karachi traffic police are fully capable of implementing the writ of road laws if there is a strong determination. However, sadly the traffic police are not showing same professional approach to tackle the public transport. Insiders say there is a very strong lobby of private transporters and the culture of getting bribes from buses and minibuses is deep-rooted in the traffic police department, and it may take some time to change this culture.

Azam, a public transporter, says Pakistani drivers are very careful when they work in the Middle East countries where punishments of violation of road rules are sever. He said in Pakistan, especially Karachi the fines of road rule violations are ridiculously low. He said if the traffic police enhance the road violation fine for minibuses from Rs500 to Rs5000 hardly any driver would dare to bypass traffic laws. He said the relations of traffic cops and transporters are friendly and both sides ensure their mutual interests are taken care of.

Faria, a student of local university, said the government should give new route permits to transporters for plying wide-bodies buses and the narrow-bodied mini-buses and coaches should be abolished altogether. She said big buses would certainly help in alleviating public transport issue in Karachi.

Kareem, a technician at a local hospital said the government agencies including Karachi traffic police should impound the minibuses and coaches with roof-racks and release them after removing them. He said this would not facilitate the commuters but also show respect to the instructions of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.