LAHORE - City traffic police are desperately targeting motorcyclists, auto-drivers, and commercial vehicles to meet revenue targets set by the provincial authorities.

On the other hand, the traffic wardens are helpless to take any action against the drivers of luxury cars and four-wheel-drives even in case of sheer violations of traffic rules. The policemen, who often themselves violate traffic rules while driving on city roads, are virtually punishing the poor to generate revenue for the provincial government.

However, the auto-drivers who bribe the policemen on weekly or monthly basis are not issued tickets at all.

It was learnt that each traffic warden, on a daily basis, is tasked to issue challan tickets to maximum drivers, no matter the motorists violate traffic rules or not. The wardens are bound to achieve the daily targets during their eight-hour long duty. Insiders say the traffic wardens are taken to task by the senior officers in case they fail to meet the targets.

A survey conducted by The Nation shows the traffic wardens do not signal every vehicle to stop; however they frequently target rickshaw drivers, motorcyclists, and the drivers of tractor-trolleys and private vehicles used for transportation.

The officials stepped up the “ticketing campaign” after the Lahore Chief Traffic Officer had announced at last 10 percent share for the traffic wardens from the revenue collected by imposing heavy fines on the violators of traffic rules.

Last year, the government had approved a summary sent by the city traffic police department to the Punjab Inspector General of Police to “compensate” the wardens, who perform their ‘duties’ vigilantly to check the violators. However, sources revealed that the initiative was taken to discourage the bribery culture, which had been flourishing in the traffic police department because of multiple factors. The traffic police chief had recommended 10pc to 15pc share for the officials from the income stating that the funds would be spent on the welfare of the policemen.

Citing the similar policy of the National Highways and Motorway Police (NH&MP), the city traffic police department believes that this incentive helped them improve the performance of policemen serving in the provincial metropolis.

On the other hand, traffic jumbles have become order of the day in Lahore. The traffic police have launched a massive crackdown on the drivers of auto-rickshaws and commercial vehicles.

According to official record, more than one million motorists, mostly auto-drivers, were ticketed in Lahore during the last fiscal year (from June 2015 to June 2016). More than 2500 motorists are intercepted and issued fines tickets everyday in Lahore.

Each traffic warden, deployed on city roads to ensure smooth flow of traffic, is bound to issue challan tickets to at least 30 vehicles during his/her duty shift. Police sources revealed that this compulsion has multiplied the miseries of the motorists on the one hand, while on the other hand this policy is providing an opportunity to the officials to extort underhand money from the poor drivers.

During the survey in Lahore, man traffic policemen were witnessed intercepting the drivers of auto-rickshaws and commercial vehicles on the road without any reason. For this purpose, the wardens impatiently wait for public transport drivers at various points on Lahore’s main arteries particularly Canal Road, Multan road, and Ferozepur Road.

After midnight, the wardens openly accept bribe from the drivers of goods transports and tractor-trolleys for entering the provincial metropolis.

Many drivers and motorists who spoke to The Nation on the subject said that the traffic police were punishing the poor motorists to extort money. “Their basic job is to punish the poor instead of taking action against the violators of traffic rules. The wardens must stop a vehicle in case of any violation (of traffic rules), Muhammad Faisal, a schoolteacher in Gulberg.

The City Traffic Police had been reformed during the tenure of former chief minister Pervaiz Elahi to make the force a corruption-free institution. But, unfortunately, the wardens have started accepting bribe from the motorists. Also, the complaints of torture and rude attitude are multiplying against the wardens.

Last week, a traffic police officer badly thrashed an old man on The Mall. The 70-year-old man had reached the spot to rescue his two sons after they were stopped by wardens. Both the motorcyclists were on their way home when the wardens issued them a ticket ‘without any reason’.

A traffic police spokesman denied the reports that the wardens were given any target by the provincial government. He claimed that the police had launched a massive crackdown on the violators of traffic rules especially underage drivers.

The policy of “forced ticketing” has been multiplying the miseries of the poor motorists besides giving bad name to the new traffic police, which had been established on the pattern of motorway police several years ago. The government had also inducted graduates in this new force keeping in mind that it would be a people-friendly and corruption-free institution.

Muhammad Islam Khan, who runs an auto-rickshaw in city to feed nine members of his family, appealed to the Punjab chief minister and the provincial police officer to take notice of the situation and provide some relief to the poor drivers.