The beginning and end of the public transport strike in Punjab was a reflection of a very old pattern, replicated each time a trading body is unhappy with government policies. A sensible law is drafted by the government, followed by protests by members of the business community and quite often, a swift retraction of the controversial policy by the state as a result.

On this occasion, the provincial government’s decision to increase traffic violation fines and tolls on highways was met with fierce opposition from public transporters, who went on strike until Governor Ghulam Sarwar negotiated a solution to stop this unnecessary stalemate.

It is not yet clear what concessions the government will be providing (if any) in return for the end in strike. But a brief look at the traffic violation and accident figures in Pakistan will provide an ample number of reasons as to why the government’s move to increase violation fines was an important step in improving road safety across Punjab.

The paltry fine of Rs500 has never done enough to dissuade drivers from breaking traffic rules; the government’s decision to increase this penalty up to Rs10000 might just be an important step in countering the lawlessness that is common to see on roads throughout the country.

Across the world, traffic violations carry a high penalty – quite often, jail time and confiscated licenses are additional deterrents – and the same rules should apply in Pakistan as well. The fact that traffic violations are currently affordable is exactly why some many rules get broken in the first place.

The striking public transport providers have no leg to stand on; they are essentially striking for the government to restore their ability to flout rules on the road as they please. No one should fear a penalty when they know they will not be incurring it in any case.

It is hoped that the government does not capitulate to these demands and stays strong in its bid to stop needless accidents and deaths on the roads.