Chaos at Driving License Branches in Karachi as People Flock For Licenses and Traffic Police Fails to Deliver

The drivers of Karachi, who drive bikes and vehicles of all sorts without possessing a valid driving license, started the day in fear after a last moment announcement by Traffic Police authorities that driving without a valid license will result in arrest and jail.

On Friday, October 30th, it was announced that anyone driving without a license will be arrested and thrown in jail – starting from Monday, November 2nd. People flocked to driving license offices on Saturday – only to find them shut down. Whereas, the website of Karachi Traffic Police shows the working days are from Monday to Saturday.

karachi traffic police timings

Karachi, a city with population of more than 2 million, has only 3 branches of Drive License issuance offices – each with a capacity to issue 150-200 licenses per day. Have the authorities anticipated the number of applicants they will receive after people driving without licenses were threatened with jail term, and were they prepared to handle the masses? Obviously not!

As anticipated, thousands rushed to the driving license offices at Nazimabad, Clifton and Korangi on Monday, only to find the doors closed as the premises were filled over capacity. There was no one to manage the crowd or guide them. People, in desperation, scaled walls and pushed each other to get inside. The understaffed traffic police officers were unable to manage the crowd resulting in more chaos. Ultimately, they called in Sindh Police for help who did what it can do best – abused and thrashed public with batons.

police batton charging driving license applicants karachi

As the situation was highlighted in media, the traffic police and Sindh government felt the heat and extended the deadline to acquire driving licenses to one month. This is also contradictory because traffic police sources stated the extension is for 2 weeks while Sindh Home Minister announced a month’s extension.

Driving without a license is a serious crime and has to be dealt with strict penalties. However, the way traffic police authorities totally mishandled the situation. Public was harassed and flocked to driving license offices where they were humiliated and beaten up. Is this good governance?

Issuing fake licenses is also a crime. Is it possible to issue fake licenses without inside assistance? Was this investigated and any culprits caught? Any action taken against traffic police officials who are openly involved in bribery and extortion? Why put all the blame on public?

Some questions on today’s chaos at Driving License offices in Karachi:

1. What steps were taken to educate and warn drivers before starting the campaign? Any notice was given? Any public awareness campaign executed?

2. Have the authorities not anticipated the number of applicants coming to make licenses after threatened with jail? What measures were taken to serve them?

3. Why respectable time and deadline was not given earlier?

4. If the timings and days are extended now, why not before today’s mishap?

5. What steps are taken now to manage the load of applicants, both for learners’ and permanent driving licenses?

6. Will there be any action against policemen, caught on camera, beating civilians?

7. What happened to other campaigns recently started by the traffic police, such as mandatory helmets for bike riders?

8. Does traffic laws in Pakistan impose jail term for driving without license?

Pakistan is one of those countries in the world where interacting with government departments, whether to pay taxes or obtain legal documents, is a twisted and painful experience. The authorities allow misuse and abuse of the law, nurturing corruption, and then suddenly they wake from slumber and start to impose their writ without empathy. The public servants consider themselves to be the masters, humiliating and mistreating the public as they deem fit. Also, common Pakistanis, without resources and connections, are considered as 2nd or 3rd class citizens, and treated so, by those in higher echelons of power and class.

A fire fighting measure by Traffic police at end of chaotic day:

traffic police circular

About Kashif Aziz

Blogger, Internet Consultant, Procrastinator.
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