The Punjab Safe Cities Authority (PSCA) has once again started issuing e-challans to the traffic violators in the provincial capital, Lahore, in collaboration with City Traffic Police (CTP).
Although the initiative is impressive and has collected huge revenue, sadly, it has become a norm in our country to implement policies without doing homework.
Safe city authority has CCTV Cameras placed all over the city, and the idea is to check the violations in real time while also taking a picture of the offense. These e-challans are then dispatched to the addresses of the offenders taking the help from the excise database.
Ten days time limit is provided to the violator to submit the fine in any branch of the Bank of Punjab’. Failing to do so might result in the confiscation of the vehicle by the authorities.
Ideally speaking, we should all be praising the authority as well as city traffic police Lahore, but there are many challenges that this system still needs to attend to.
Bank Lease Vehicles
Like the rest of the world, vehicles are leased in Pakistan through banks, and it is worth noting that these vehicles remain registered in the name of banks until the completion of lease tenure. Unlike the bank financing, where the vehicle gets transferred to the buyer at the time of purchase.
Here is the catch, the e-challan is issued and dispatched to the owner’s address, which is the bank in this case. Upon receiving, the bank tries to contact the leaseholder for paying the fine who tries to avoid it in most of the cases.
“It is very disturbing for us, we do contact the leaseholder upon the arrival of the e-challan, but they tend to avoid the situation, now who’s going to pay the fine? If the vehicle is confiscated or blacklisted, its still the bank’s property but we are not involved in any traffic violation.” A bank official told, on the condition of anonymity.
Second-Hand Vehicles Purchased but not Transferred
It is a usual practice in Pakistan after buying a used vehicle to let it remain in the name of the previous owner in most of the cases. It is typically done to avoid the transfer fee.
Similar to the first scenario, the city traffic police sends the e-challan to the address of the previous owner, while the new buyer doesn’t get to know that his violation generated a challan. In this case, no one pays the fee, and eventually, the new buyer likely gets his vehicle blacklisted after the scheduled time.
Although Punjab Excise Department has declared open transfer letters as illegal and intends to computerize the transfer, there are still millions of vehicles that are not officially transferred yet.
Non-computerized number plates
Like said before, this e-challan system works with the CCTV cameras that capture the image of the number plates. Despite the warning and fines by the excise teams, many vehicles can still be seen on the roads without computerized number plates.
Safe city authority has already mentioned numerous times that these number plates are a hindrance in issuing e-challans. As the problem is still on the roads, the e-challan system will likely not bear the intended fruits.
Outsiders Stationed in Lahore
Lahore is a metropolitan city where people from different parts of the country come for employment or business purpose while having cars registered in their respective districts.
Since their E-challans are delivered by post to their permanent addresses while they are residing in Lahore, this creates a nuisance and resultantly, there are high chances of challans being not submitted within the assigned date.
A system to redirect these challans to the offender’s temporary address should be devised, avoiding the inconvenience.
It’s rumored that the authorities are launching an app where people will be able to get the details of e-challans against their registered vehicles. Though it’s an applaudable step, the launch of the app should have come before the inception of the system.
All being said, we are still of the opinion that the e-challan system is a very bold and commendable step from the government. Though it is devised to facilitate the people and to ensure the smooth flow of traffic within the city, it has given birth to whole new problems.
We really do need to digitize such systems in Pakistan but one thing should be kept in mind that the process and implementation should be well-thought and the government should not haste in taking such measure or it will only result in more inconvenience and will fail to deliver.