LAHORE - City traffic police department is all set to launch electronic ticketing system to replace manual challan books in the provincial metropolis. The latest initiative, the first of its kind in Lahore, is part of the multi-billion safe city project.

Under the e-challaning mechanism, traffic officers will issue challan tickets to violators digitally. The motorists will be able to pay the fine amount by using multiple electronic sources including credit cards, ATM cards, and mobile phone cards.

At present, the fine payment procedure is lengthy, complicated, and corruption-tainted as well. Citizens are bound to deposit the fine amount to a few designated bank branches to get back registration books of vehicles, driving licences, or ID cards. Traffic officer routinely seize registration books or driving licences after issuing challan tickets to the drivers.

Motorists particularly those belonged to others cities of the Punjab province complained that they have to suffer a lot during bank holidays because of manual ticketing system. Since banks are closed in the evening, there is no way to deposit fine amount during the night hours.

Lahore’s chief traffic officer Rai Ijaz Ahmed says his department is ready to launch digital-ticketing to facilitate citizens. “The latest ticketing system will provide us real time information about the working of our officers on roads. This will also help police identity habitual or regular violators,” the officer said.

During a brief chat with The Nation on Wednesday, Rai Ijaz Ahmed further said that his department would cancel the driving licences of motorists found involved in repeated violations of traffic laws.

“On each violation, one or two points of the drivers will be deleted. So, the driver will remain careful in future,” the officer said. “On the other hand, this digital ticketing system will be hassle-free. Also, it has some important features that would help our department monitor the working of traffic staff.”

Officials familiar with the development told this reporter that at least 350 smart machines called POS (point of sale) were being provided to the Lahore traffic police for e-ticketing as part of the Safe City project. Some additional features are added in the latest machines having android based application including biometric attendance and wireless communication.

The motorists will be using their swipe cards to be able to pay the fine amount on the spot. The POS machines will be connected with the main server of the Punjab Safe City Authority. This on-line device will also be connected with the Punjab Excise Department, Anti-Vehicle Lifting Staff, and driving licence issuance management system, according to officials.

In Lahore, more than 300 patrolling officers and 40 sector in-charges will be equipped with POS machines.

“We have completed most the work. The e-ticketing system will start in Lahore by the end of May or in the first week of June,” says SSP Rai Ijaz Ahmed. “Simply, this initiative will clear the (manual) mess. From issuance of fine tickets to payments, the entire procedure will be online.” 

Many people don’t follow traffic rules and laws in this sprawling metropolis where millions of vehicles plying on roads. Every year, the traffic police issue challan tickets to more than one million drivers on various violations ranging from over-speeding to over-changing and wrong parking to underage driving.

According to the official data (available with The Nation), the city traffic police issued challan tickets to at least 473,665 drivers during the first three months of this years. In 2016, at least 340,293 persons were penalized for violating traffic laws in town during the same period.

The sizeable surge in challan tickets suggests the police are struggling to implement traffic laws in a country, where at least 15 people die in road accidents every day. The data of traffic accidents, which took place in Pakistan during the last 10 years, present a horrific picture.

Traffic officers say the e-ticketing system will help police stop repeated violations of traffic laws besides regulating the traffic management in the provincial capital. The authorities will extend this project to other big cities in different phases in the future.

According to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics data on traffic accidents in Pakistan (from 2004 to 2013), the ratio of killings in road accidents in Sindh was recorded the highest at up to 86 percent. A total of 51,416 people died in 97,739 road accidents across the country from 2004 to 2013. Out of total casualties, as many as 29,524 were killed in 51,715 accidents in Punjab.