LAHORE - Unauthorised and fake number-plates of vehicles are hindering Safe City Authority initiative in Lahore, officials said.

“We are struggling to clear the mess of illegal number plates,” Lahore Chief Traffic Officer Rai Ijaz Ahmad told The Nation on Wednesday.

“We have noted that a record number of vehicles don’t carry number plates. Some vehicles were seen with fake (number plates) and others were found with unauthorized number plates,” said Chief Traffic Officer Rai Ijaz who is also a key member of the Safe City Authority.

The revelation comes months after a high-tech control room began precise security monitoring through hundreds of high-definition close circuit TV cameras. In Lahore, many major roads are equipped with HD cameras for round-the-clock surveillance. 

A senior police official said that the law enforcement agencies have intensified a Punjab-wide crackdown on unauthorized number-plates to clear the mess.

The Automated Number Plate Reader installed at the main control rooms does not save the data of illegal plates automatically. “So, we have stepped up crackdown on the violators,” he said. “During the last four weeks, he said, the Lahore traffic police ticketed at least 41,000 such vehicles. According to the CTO, the traffic police department had already sent a summary to the government for drafting on e-ticketing system. Under this project, the challan tickets will be sent at the home addresses of violators once they are caught on cameras.

“The authority uses two types of cameras – surveillance cameras and ANPR. These cameras will help us identify the vehicles not the drivers. The record and particulars of the vehicles having fake number plates will be sent to the anti-vehicle lifting staff for strict action,” the officer explained.

Police last month started digital monitoring of Mall Road. Initially, the traffic laws breakers caught with the help of CCTV cameras on The Mall are being sent warning slips at their home addresses.

“Once the government amends the laws, the police will begin this exercise across the city,” the CTO said. The officer also informed that the police impounded at least 2,484 vehicles during its drive against vehicles sans number plates in the past 30 days.

“We are getting real-time and precise information with videos and pictures and that can’t be refuted by the violators. The e-ticketing is being carried out with the help of Automated Number Plate Reader. That’s more than perfect,” he said.  Law enforcement agencies have intensified clampdown to discourage the trend of fake, fancy, and illegal number plates throughout the province. The police are also raiding the places where illegal number plates manufactured. Special police teams are constituted for this purpose.

The multibillion scheme of surveillance nicknamed as IC3 or Integrated Command, Control, and Communication Center is run by police. Under this project, the government has been planning strict surveillance of miscreants and offenders by using modern tools including CCTV cameras. This project of modern technology will be expanded to all major cities of the province in a phased programme.

In Lahore, at least 2,000 CCTV cameras would be made functional on leading roads and crossings by the end of December. This will help police ensure round-the-clock surveillance and monitoring.  All the police patrolling units including Dolphin Force, Police Response Units, and mobile squads would be inserted into the integrated system. Similarly, quick police response in untoward happenings is also among the salient features of this initiative.

Meanwhile, Lahore capital city police officer Muhammad Amin Wains Wednesday presided over a meeting at the headquarters of safe city authority to review the progress on the project. The regional police officers of Faisalabad, Sheikhupura, and Gujranwala joined the conference via video link while MD Safe City Authority Ali Amir Malik, Lahore CTO Rai Ijaz Ahmed, SP Mobiles Faisal Shahzad and excise and taxation officers were present on this occasion.

According to a police spokesman, it was decided in the meeting that the provincial police in collaboration with the Excise and Taxation Department would step up crackdown in big cities of the province to stop the use of illegal number plates.