Inspector General National Highways & Motorways Police (NH&MP), Zulfiqar Cheema is reputedly one of the finest officers. Recently he came up with the idea of establishing ‘wake-up points’ for the drivers on motorways. Unfortunately, NH&MP need to wake up its operational staff more than ‘wake up points’ for the drivers. Some negligent incidents have been taking place right under the nose of the NH&MP officials, which could have been resulted into a total devastation.

On October 31 I was traveling in a local bus with the registration number Peshawar C-9543 from Rawalpindi to Lahore. This vehicle was all set to hit the road with its pathetic traveling conditions. As the bus checked in from the Rawalpindi toll plaza, it was reverted back due to another major problem: the bus was traveling without any route permit. The driver had previous experience of ditching the NH&MP staff, so he decided to take another route. The bus thus checked in from the Turnol entry point of the motorway and this time there was no watchdog looking out for illegal vehicles. The bus traveled from Rawalpindi to Pindi Bhattian and there was not even a single patrolling staff to check if this vehicle fits the rules and regulation of our state-of-the-art road authority. For four hours, the vehicle remained on the motorway, checked in and out on several toll plazas to drop and pick passengers but still the authorities were in deep slumber.

Imagining the worst part of this whole scenario, the vehicle could have been full of explosive material. The idea of dialing the helpline was in vain as the helpline wasn’t accessible. The driver of this bus was confident enough to claim that he had breached and ditched the NH&MP authorities a number of times and the stories of other such stunts were the actual source of inspiration for him.  Keeping in mind the importance of motorways and how it connects the federal capital with the center and south of Punjab, it is quite pertinent to say that this was a disaster and suitably a question mark on the performance of the authorities that claim to be the most efficient.

Meanwhile, I changed the bus at Pindi Bhattian. I was enraged over the negligence of the NH&MP authorities.  The second bus moved at a snail’s pace and suddenly stopped to give a short lift to a NH&MP patrolling officer. What happened next was quite shocking for me. The officer upon listening to my complaint said that NH&MP had been facing shortage of staff on entrance points due to which such events had become a routine. More surprisingly, he alleged the NH&MP high-ups were being stricter regarding the revenue generating fine-tickets than looking for such security lapses. He claimed that senior officers of NH&MP demanded more fine-tickets for revenue generation.

The officer claimed that senior officers focus on sternness instead of crisis resolution. He claimed that there were various entry points on the motorway, which are operational without any security staff; the only staff available there is toll plaza managers. In this context, motorways can turn into a safe haven for the criminals where one can run as fast as possible right under the nose of our so called proficient authorities.

       -By Syed Zuhaib Hussnain