Stop using flashing lights, sirens and fake number plates, it’s illegal!

Published: April 5, 2014
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Sirens, hooters and police lights should be withdrawn from private and government vehicles and only be restricted to the police, fire-fighters and Emergency Medical System vehicles. PHOTO: DR JAHANZEB EFFENDI

Sirens, hooters and police lights should be withdrawn from private and government vehicles and only be restricted to the police, fire-fighters and Emergency Medical System vehicles. PHOTO: DR JAHANZEB EFFENDI These cars are seen being driven rashly and the drivers continuously honk and harass others in traffic. Some of them are private vehicles with families sitting inside and one wonders what emergency is taking them to places like sea-view. PHOTO: FILE These cars are seen being driven rashly and the drivers continuously honk and harass others in traffic. Some of them are private vehicles with families sitting inside and one wonders what emergency is taking them to places like sea-view. PHOTO: DR JAHANZEB EFFENDI These cars are seen being driven rashly and the drivers continuously honk and harass others in traffic. Some of them are private vehicles with families sitting inside and one wonders what emergency is taking them to places like sea-view. PHOTO: DR JAHANZEB EFFENDI

Karachi suffers from a serious law and order situation. Along with criminals, some of the rich and powerful citizens and state institutions also challenge the law for their own advantage.

A number of private and government vehicles are illegally using emergency flashing lights installed on the roof or hidden in the front grills of their cars. They are seen casually flashing these emergency lights and impersonating as police vehicles, using the conventional red and blue colours.

These cars are seen driven rashly, and the drivers continuously honk and harass others in traffic. Some of them are private vehicles with families sitting inside and one wonders what emergency is taking them to places like sea-view.

A few of the official police luxury black Toyota Corolla cars, which bear a Sindh Police license plate, also use these flashing lights and are often seen driven by family members of these officers, with their emergency lights on.

Photo: Dr Jahanzeb Effendi

Recently, more and more VVIPs have started the indiscriminate use of sirens and hooters.

SUVs dotted with armed private militias are seen and heard with blaring sirens at almost every traffic signal and intersection, followed by an entourage of other police and security vehicles. These individuals not only disrupt traffic but also pressurise the traffic wardens, who are busy handling extremely high flows of traffic.

A police vehicle without a number plate. Photo: Dr Jahanzeb Effendi

The extent of disregard for other fellow citizens is such that they continue to use these sirens in residential areas every time they leave or return to their abodes. These VVIPs disturb the peace of these residential areas and cause inconvenience to neighbours.

The VVIPs, with their armed guards, are seen carrying prohibited bore weapons, often pointing them directly at the motorist behind them. While others are seen gesturing and flashing weapons at the traffic to clear off and motorcycles to stay away. This humiliating practice has become part and parcel of life in Karachi.

Photo: Dr Jahanzeb Effendi

A recent protest organised by the Citizens Trust Against Crime (CTAC) for de-weaponising the city identified that the Parliament has issued a total of 69473 licenses for prohibited bore weapons. This has been the largest number of weapons being allowed legally in the world.

Another serious violation of law is impersonating a government license plate.

In the city of Karachi, vehicles with a private license number printed on green backgrounds, along with the ‘Government of Sindh’ logo, are being spotted regularly. These vehicles have fake license plates but continue to evade police snap checks.

Either the police force is fooled by the owners, or they are turning a blind eye, that still remains to be established. Some of the cars have AFR-2013 printed on a green background, which gives an impression that it is a government vehicle.

Photo: Dr Jahanzeb Effendi

The majority of the vehicles belonging to the government, bearing the green license plates, are not the official plates issued by the government. They usually are a copy and can easily be spotted by the difference in their font and a lack of government stamp.

These vehicles have great potential of being involved in crimes, smuggling and kidnapping as well as acts of terrorism as they cannot be traced. The Sindh government has failed to register its vehicles with the excise and taxation department.

A recent independent inspection by Mr Naeem Sadiq, a concerned citizen, proved the unlawful use of a Government of Pakistan license plate being used on another vehicle, instead of the one issued officially.

Photo: Dr Jahanzeb Effendi

The Police have also failed to set an example.

According to recent Government statistics, the Police have failed to register 3212 four wheel vehicles, 826 motorcycles pickup trucks and cars.

They have not registered a single vehicle with the excise and taxation department since 2007 and have defaulted in Rs241 million which the institution owes in registration.

The rich and powerful elites and government representatives have followed suit and set an even more pathetic example. One particular individual living in DHA Phase V insists on using ‘MNA’ as the license plates for all his vehicles, including a Toyota Tundra truck. While a whole clan of others believe that a license plate bearing the words ‘Peer Pagara’ is sufficient registration for their vehicles.

Photo: Dr Jahanzeb Effendi

There are other offenders who continue to use clan names such as ‘Zardari’ ‘Bhutto’ ‘Lehri’ or simply ‘VII’ or ‘BL 1’.

Photo: Dr Jahanzeb Effendi

A strict enforcement of traffic laws and a ban on display of weapons is required immediately. Vehicles with false, dubious, fake and faltered license plates should be impounded by the police.

Every government vehicle should be especially checked by the police, and the excise and taxation department, for using the official license plate issued by the relevant state department.

Sirens, hooters and police lights should be withdrawn from private and government vehicles and only be restricted to the police, fire-fighters and Emergency Medical System vehicles. Using these sirens in residential areas should be restricted.

A message to the VVIPs should be sent to limit the use of such nuisances as they are not rushing to an emergency on their way home. Efforts by the civil society and the CTAC are commendable and should be joined and supported by the masses to make laws more effective.

Until the people in the position of power and state institutions do not present themselves as role models for others, the common citizen will not get the motivation and example to obey the law.

Jahanzeb Effendi

Dr Jahanzeb Effendi

A young doctor, First Responder and Co-founder of First Response Initiative of Pakistan, FRIP. Training the general public to become first responders. Aspires to be a Cardiac Transplant Surgeon and build Pakistan's first Organ Sharing Network. Believes in writing for change. He tweets as @Jahanzebeffendi (twitter.com/Jahanzebeffendi)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Nomi

    jz your license plate should say: sceneRecommend

  • Iftikhar Ali

    good jobRecommend

  • Priority

    Waste of writing space!
    We have other pressing concerns right now than to catch number plate violators! How about checking illegal carriage of iranian kerosene/petrol on buses…Recommend

  • Mozac

    I don’t think there is much you can do to change this culture. It is something that we have to live with in this city and ignore like we would any wounded beast. These people are uneducated, callous and have egos that can be split with a clink. Please beware of them at night. They are drunk and such a concoction of alcohol, illiteracy and guns cannot lead to anything good. Some have reported being unfortunate enough to have their parked cars blocked by them at shopping centers and grocery stores with no amount of pleading getting them to move. Their attitudes on crowded roads, whether it is a traffic jam or parents picking up their children from school is best left unsaid.

    Let us pray that patience, with their presence among us, will lead to an expiation for past sins.Recommend

  • Fatima

    This culture is more visible in Karachi then in any other part of the country and it’s so nauseating seeing those vehicles with a Pajero behind ’em and huge men seated in the open backs hanging their rifles out the jeep!!!
    Stuff like this makes you feel like an ant and sometimes the only sane person around.Recommend

  • Rizwan

    Everything wrong with this country in a nutshell.Recommend

  • Stranger

    What about Al-Bakistan number plates. They must be banned on the first place. Even punish owners to ridicule the name of the country!Recommend

  • keaga

    good article and thanks for highlighting the yahoos with the picsRecommend

  • Parvez

    Yesterday there were way more comments……….ha! ha!Recommend

  • Farnaz Khan

    This is as important a problem as law enforcement itself, and your failure to recognize that is reinforcing the blindness we face as a nation today.Recommend

  • Farnaz Khan

    Kudos to the author for bringing up such a pressing issue. The lack of respect for even the most simple of rules is a highlight of the issues we will face on the road to appropriate law enforcement.Recommend

  • MAK

    I hope you do know that Jeep is a brand of automobiles under Chrysler Group and that not all 4 x 4 cars are Jeep.Recommend

  • st

    the people who have such protocol are not roaming around to flash their wealth… some have genuine safety and security risks… and hence are forced to carry around armed guards for their protection. !!! ask someone whose been kidnapped or has had a grenade thrown at his office or house or factory and he will tell you that how much having armed gaurds have kept him mentally stable to come to work adn function adequately.Recommend