RAWALPINDI: After failing to implement a ban on kite flying, the Punjab government led by Maryam Nawaz has started following in the footsteps of the Usman Buzdar government by forcing the motorcyclists to install flexible antenna wires on their bikes as protection from kite strings.

The antenna will act as a barrier, intercepting kite strings before they can reach the rider, reducing the risk of any fatal injury. A similar action was taken by the PTI government in 2021 to keep motorcyclists safe from kite strings in Rawalpindi.

At the time, it had issued an advisory for motorcyclists to install a ‘safety steel wire’ on their two-wheelers as a proactive measure against possible stray strings. Usman Buzdar, the then CM, had taken a similar initiative of imposing a ban on kite flying across the province in 2022, but his government was unable to control this deadly sport.

This time around, CM Maryam directed the police to launch a crackdown against kite sellers and flyers to curb this practice. In a recent meeting, she had directed the police to launch a campaign aimed at installing safety rods on motorbikes, specifically to shield riders from the dangers posed by synthetic kite strings.

Bikers asked to install ‘antennas’ to save themselves from kite strings as police to enforce ban

In addition, the RDA has affixed awareness banners, terming kite flying a dangerous activity. These banners urged people to call the emergency police on 15 in case any person selling kites and string or flying.

However, the kite flyers have been ignoring the government ban, with kites being smuggled into Punjab – especially into Rawalpindi – from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and other neighbouring areas. Due to a lax drive against this sport, the implementation of the government ban on the use of metal and chemical strings for kite flying could not be ensured either.

To ensure the safety of bike riders in Rawalpindi, the police have been forcing motorcycle riders to install antennas to avoid kite strings. But these antennas are installed on motorbikes on the spot reserved for the back-view mirrors, and the absence of mirrors makes motorcyclists vulnerable to accidents.

A former chief traffic officer Syed Ishtiaq Shah also opposed this move, calling the use of flexible antenna wire a traffic hazard. “If the government is serious about making the lives of the citizens safe, then it should pass legislation, prohibiting the manufacturing and possession of kites across the country, and the punishments should be increased for those violating the government ban,” he said.

“Increased punishment is only one method by which this menace can be controlled, while all other measures will be temporary,” he said.

Likewise, the Punjab government has decided to provide traffic police and Rescue 1122 motorcycles ‘regular windshields’ installed in front of the bikes and such a windshield should be installed on ordinary motorcycles.

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2024

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