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LAHORE, Oct 28: The National Highway and Motorway Police (NH&MP) face staff shortage in the wake of growing roads in the country.

“Starting with manning only 386 kilometres of Motorway-II (Lahore-Islamabad) in 1997, we have now taken control of at least 3,000km roads, including National Highway. Keeping in view the current requirement, at least 2,500 more officials are required to man all roads effectively,” NH&MP Inspector General (IG) Riffat Pasha told Dawn.

He said the NH&MP would also take the control of 550km long RCD Highway (Quetta-Karachi) in a couple of months and Motorway I (Peshawar-Islamabad), which was also expected to be inaugurated in the current month.

“We have to deploy officials at new occupations from our existing 4,000 officials, which makes them overburdened,” he said.

He said the department had delayed new recruitments due to non-availability of sanctioned posts, delay in launch of promotion policy and lengthy training of newly-recruited officials.

The IG said there were no service rules for the department and because of that field officers could not be promoted for the last six years.

“The matter is in the Federal Service Tribunal as officers with one step promotion in the department are in the process of litigation on seniority issue and future promotion will be taken in the light of court’s decision,” he said.

“There are complications in job structure and seniority criteria of the department as those who are on deputation in the department affect the seniority of directly-appointed patrolling officers and senior patrolling officer,” Mr Pasha said.

He denied reports that patrolling officers were asked to increase challans to generate more revenue, adding that increase in challans was not needed. He admitted that challans on national highways were more than those on motorways.

Traffic rules violations on highways include over-speeding in congested localities and line-lane violations by tractor-trolleys and motorcycles, he said.

“We have decided to focus on each violation separately, will launch a mass awareness campaign among road-users about each violation separately for two weeks each and then will start fining if motorists continue violating the rules,” he said.

About over-loading and running of freight traffic affecting road life, the IG said weigh stations were mainly responsible for letting over-loaded vehicles ply on roads. He said weigh stations were to challan and detain or offload extra goods from the vehicle but these stations, mostly manned by private operators, let the overloaded vehicles go.

“The NHA plans six new weigh bridges and operate some mobile weigh stations on N-5 to check overloading,” he said.

He said there was need to set up warehouses adjacent to weight stations to keep the offloaded goods there.

He also denied reports of a lack of coordination between army officials deputed in the department and the original staff.

“Individuals’ complaint regarding the lack of coordination is possible but in general there exits a friendly coordination among them,” he said.

According to him, the department’s priority is to regulate traffic enforcement, help road users, make roads safer and educate the public, especially students, about traffic rules.

About the major causes of accidents on Motorway, the IG said according to official data, 28 per cent of accidents took place because of dozing off while driving, 17 per cent because of negligence of drivers, 15 per cent mechanical fault and 13 per cent because of tyre burst.

Regarding major causes of accidents on N-5, he said 21 per cent of accidents occurred due to negligent driving, 15 per cent improper crossing by pedestrians, 10 per cent over speeding and eight per cent due to over improper stopping or changing direction.

Mr Pasha says road accidents ratio has decreased on national highways owing to round-the-clock patrolling, enforcement of traffic laws and consistent campaign among public transport drivers and others about traffic laws.