The violation of rules and frequent traffic jams are witnessed despite the presence of two traffic control systems in Sialkot district.
There are two separate systems namely traffic wardens system and traffic police system under the supervision of Chief Traffic Officer (CTO) and two DSPs (traffic) in Sialkot but both the systems lack proper mechanism to control the traffic in the region.
Hours-long traffic jams on almost all the main inter-city roads during the peak hours remain a big problem for the local people especially during the on and off timings of the local educational institutions in Sialkot.
The export-oriented city is in a dire need of an effective plan to overcome the traffic mess and to check the traffic rules’ violation. The performance of the traffic wardens and traffic police personnel seem to be limited only to increasing the number of challans. The people coming to Sialkot on motorcycles from the rural areas often become the victim of the challans by the traffic wardens and the traffic police.
Under the traffic warden system, the Punjab government had deputed 60 wardens to control traffic in Sialkot city, out of which 20 wardens perform their special duties (from Sialkot traffic police quota) in Lahore for the Orange Line Train Project, officials said. There are only 130 police personnel in Sialkot city, out of which 30 traffic policemen perform their duties at Lahore, while the rest of the traffic police personnel are also often deputed at various other cities on special duties.
The Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) bears expenditures of 30 personnel of Rescue 1122 by paying them their monthly salaries. Officials of the Traffic Police confirmed that more than 0.4 million small and medium sized vehicles of the different kinds are on the roads in Sialkot district. They said that the worst situation of rising rules violations cannot be controlled due to shortage of personnel. Sialkot-Daska-Gujranwala Road, Sialkot-Sambrial-Wazirabad Road, Sialkot-Pasrur Road, Zafarwal-Kingra- Narowal Road and on all the link roads leading to the remote bordering villages are the worst hit.
Meanwhile, the Sialkot business community strongly criticised the poor performance of traffic police. Exporters Khalid Mehmood, Abid Hussain, Bashir, Aslam, Naimatullah, Allah Rakha, Nasir Mehmood, Ghulam Hussain, Rana Naseem, Mujtaba Rehman and Mirza Iqbal said that traffic mess speaks volumes about the negligence of traffic police.
They said that all the traffic signals had been lying out of order in Sialkot city for the last three years. On the other hand, the people also alleged that the officials of the Sialkot traffic police often found making fake challans and extorting money from transporters, drivers and conductors in the congested areas of Sialkot district.
In Sialkot, about 125 vehicles are registered daily. Daily moving vehicles on the roads, which run during 07:00am 07:00 pm, are about 6,000. There are 28 link roads and 15 small roads in Sialkot district.
It is very alarming that defective vehicles are passed and issued fitness certificates which increases environmental pollution. The traffic on busy Kutchery Road remains chaotic during school hours, exposing the traffic police’s inefficiency. The road where a large number of government and private educational institutions are located witnesses traffic snarls as hundreds of students use it in the morning to attend their classes or at noon to return back to home.
Talking to newsmen, various students, teachers and general public said that traffic cops pay no heed to regulating traffic on the road. They called for better planning by traffic police for the purpose. Unlawfully, parking of dozens of students’ vans alongside the Kutchery Road causes hours-long traffic jams.
Local people demanded that the general bus stand should be repaired and widened. The wagon stands should be removed to an alternative site well away from the bus stands to avoid traffic jams. The stand should be expanded to more than double of its capacity. Streetlights should be improved, they said.
When contacted, the DSP (Traffic) Waseem Akhtar said that the Punjab government has approved a plan of deputing 550 traffic wardens in Sialkot. he added that the plan would be helpful in overcoming the traffic mess.