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OVER the past couple of decades, Pakistan’s cities have seen their populations explode. Unfortunately, city administrations have been slow to respond to emerging challenges such as city planning and traffic volume and management. The scale of the last is more than evident: at practically any intersection in most cities — with the exception, perhaps, of some parts of Islamabad and Lahore — there will be a handful of traffic policemen besieged by a sea of vehicles, few of which are being operated by drivers willing to follow either the policeman’s direction or the law. Part of the problem lies in the numbers. Take Karachi’s example: speaking at the start of the Traffic Awareness Campaign 2013 on Monday, DIG Traffic Abdul Khalique Shaikh pointed out that in a city of three million registered vehicles, the total working strength of the traffic police is only a little over 3,000 men — one warden for every 1,119 vehicles and 5,971 people. While the figures for other cities were not given, they are likely to be similar, with perhaps a few exceptions.

No wonder, then, that city traffic is generally so chaotic. How to bring things under control is a knotty problem, for the answers lie not just in increasing the numbers and competency of traffic-management personnel; also required is making people aware of the rules and countering a societal mindset of getting ahead at the cost of even the most basic road etiquette, thus creating anarchy. The solutions are obvious — strict enforcement of the law without fear or favour, and the establishment of mass transit systems (Lahore being the only city that has made a push in this direction) — but hard to implement. Do city administrations have the will to take on the challenge?

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Comments (4) Closed

Ali Apr 17, 2013 06:25am
What to say of the country where law makers are the biggest violators of the law/s
Husain Jan Apr 17, 2013 06:52am
The problem is not solved due to rampant corruption in police department. Fewer number of personnel can be considered as a valid reason only if the present strength is duty bound which is not the case. There is a simple answer to this problem : Strict implementation of the rules and stinging penalties for the law breakers. But due to corruption the personnel are only interested in minting money instead of issuing tickets which encourage drivers to break law at will knowing well that even if caught they can easily get away by paying 50 or 100 rupees. The electronic media has shown many recorded evidence of personnel involved in taking bribes but the govt don't seem moved. The police also know that they would not be punished and so this goes on and on. .
Zaki Apr 17, 2013 09:31am
It all boils down to the individual efforts of the public. Being Muslims, we are taught to practice patience, tolerance and courtesy but nobody heeds. The very essence of Ramadhan is to teach and inculcate amongst us patience and forbearance as part of daily life, but that very thing gets ignored. We are the worst hypocrites.
Ashraf Apr 17, 2013 01:12pm
We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals---Immanuel Kant. How would it be if we say a Pakistani individual's mindset can be gauged with how he drives or rides a motorbike? How he puts his entire family (wife and number of small kids) on two wheels and flies. He has the options to take a bus, a taxi or rickshaw. If he cannot afford to pay transportation charges, he can reduce his outings, but not put his entire family at risk by putting them on a two a wheeler in unruly traffic. Also, it can be seen how reckless and unruly driving some people, presumably educated class, do. Over speeding, over taking from the wrong side, coming from the wrong side, not respect traffic signals, potty tailing, flashing lights even there are a number cars on his front, etc. It can be seen that some of middle class and upper middle class lots are most notorious in this respect. Worse than the taxi or bus drivers, who not educated people, Ashraf