Stop using flashing lights, sirens and fake number plates, it’s illegal!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are other offenders who continue to use clan names such as ‘Zardari’ ‘Bhutto’ ‘Lehri’ or simply ‘VII’ or ‘BL 1’.
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.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.