LAHORE – The Punjab government’s plan to recruit special police to control traffic and curb crimes at the beautifully constructed Lahore Ring Road has been changed at the eleventh hour, official sources disclosed to the TheNation on Sunday.

According to the new strategy, the already in-service Traffic Wardens to be deployed at the Ring Road rather than inducting new police force through the Punjab Public Service Commission as had been proposed in the recent past.

The reasons behind modifying the proposed plan are not clear but official sources have cited budget constraints, which compelled the provincial hierarchy to manage the traffic system by utilizing the ‘available police force.’

Police sources feared that the deployment of traffic wardens, serving in the City, on the Ring Road would multiple problems for the already overburdened traffic management system operating in the provincial metropolis.

Police sources said that more than 300 Traffic Wardens are being trained to cope with the traffic management and they would be deployed at the Ring Road within next couple of weeks. “The wardens have almost completed their training. They will be on duty within next couple of weeks,” a senior police officer confirmed to The Nation on Sunday.

Sources said that at least 300 wardens had been selected from among the Punjab Traffic Police and the selection was made after proper scrutiny, examination and tests as the Lahore Ring Road Authority Wardens would get a 25 per cent higher salary if compared to their colleagues serving in the City traffic police.

Primarily, the ‘special police force’ would be assigned the task to educate motorists about the traffic laws and road safety measures while driving at the Ring Road. This traffic force would also help motorists in case any vehicle breaks down.

At present, the National Highways and Motorways Police are providing training to the 300 selected traffic wardens about the traffic management system. Apart from arranging a mobile workshop, canteen, fork-lifter, the wardens would also be provided at least three dozen motorcycles and 10 cars for patrolling and to assist the motorists. However, these traffic wardens would be provided new brown uniforms, similar to the motorways police.  The Inspector General of Police Punjab will supervise the operational matters of this force while Lahore Ring Road Authority will control it administratively.

According to the previously proposed plan, the government had decided to recruit all Ring Road police officers above BPS-14 through the Public Service Commission. The authorities had also recommended that the rest of the staff would be recruited in a transparent manner through a committee. The decision to this effect had been taken during a high-level meeting presided over the Chief Minister early this month. The government had also proposed that the special police force for Ring Road would be a part of Punjab police, but there would be no mutual transfers. The government had also planned that modern traffic management system would be introduced at Lahore Ring Road, which would be monitored through a special control room.

When contacted, Chief Traffic Officer (CTO) Sohail Chaudhry said that the wardens had been sent on deputation. “The action is temporary and the government has been requested to recruit a new fleet for the purpose since we have fallen short of staff,” the SSP said.