It’s been 2 years since E-Challan came into existence in Pakistan. The traffic management is still one of the major problems for the people in urban centers as well as for those who travel to other cities via highways. One of the major reasons for heavy duty traffics is the uncontrollable growth of population along with rapid urbanization and skyrocketing of businesses. It is been estimated that Lahore is the 26th largest city around the globe with the population of approximately 11.1 million people. The city has become choked due to heavy duty traffic; the number of vehicles is increasing day by day. In the span of 1 year, approximately 100,000 vehicles got registered in Lahore alone . Due to hefty congestion, people are not only drowning under massive economic burden but mental illness too. Moreover, with increase of motorcycles and rickshaws numbers, the traffic is likely to block as no proper rules have been set for these particular vehicles. No doubt, the arrival of E-Challan has come with many solutions to the country, but there are still many challenges that the system needs to look upon and rectify.
It’s surprising to see that Lahore – being the 2nd largest city – which has most numbers of vehicles in Punjab. Even the figure of the three-wheeler vehicle, most commonly known by the name ‘Qing-Qi’, are reaching skies as no proper laws have been present. Most of the automobile owned by the owner are unauthorized. The massive wave of uncontrollable growth in the purchase of vehicles are causing high cost on the development of the infrastructure. The traffic system is not strong enough to look upon enormous traffics. There are at times when the systems are shut down and traffic is being controlled manually, causing massive downfall of E-Challan system. This is the reason why the people of Pakistan never get free from the envelope of massive smog. Dense smoke coming out of the vehicles contains many pollutants which is not only harmful to our mother earth but humans as well. Pakistan is fortunate to have E-challan system, yet unfortunate as most of the time it’s not functioning adequately. There are still massive problems in the systems which needs to be highlight why quality is not yet maintained.
i. EXISTING PROBLEMS
1. Previous owners are still suffering by the hands of present ones.
Even in this very present day, challans are not reaching out to most of people who have actually violated the traffic laws. Despite the picture taken by the CCTV camera, the fines are reaching to the previous owners and sadly, no efforts are being made to wipe out this unruly practice . Surprisingly, PSCA still not possesses official records of who owns the vehicles at the present time. This is the legal requirement in many parts of the country and because of it, countries are running the E-Challan system smoothly and efficiently. With the help of this carelessness, violators are free of paying their fines and the innocent ones are bearing the consequences for their ruthless actions.
2. Improper Working of the CCTV Cameras.
When E-challan was introduced in Lahore, around 1100 cameras were installed at Lahore Traffic Signals. Unfortunately, living in a third world country, the resources are very limited. The cameras, at times, are not functioning due to technical problems or unavailability of electricity. Due to this, violators have the leverage to violate the laws since no challan is reaching out to them.
3. Bank Lease Vehicles
Like happening in all parts of the world, vehicles are leased through banks in Pakistan. However, the automobile remains registered in the name of bank until the process of leased isn’t completed. In this case, challan is issued and forwarded to the bank instead of the owner’s address. However, the bank tries to contact leaseholder about the fine but they try to dodge most of the time . Later, the bank has to bear the consequences and their vehicles will be blacklisted. It is estimated that about 31 billion worth loans are taken from the bank for the cars by the people in Pakistan.
4. Penalty Points
It is a very good technique to make people aware of the fact that after points have reached specific number, the vehicles will be blacklisted and the license of the violator will be taken. Sadly, many people are yet not aware about this law and also, about what is the maximum reach for the vehicle. The main reason for this is due to two things: firstly, challans are not reaching out to the violators and secondly, the points remain zero over the challan paper even after several violations are done. The systems main objective to reduce the number of violations has failed again as the error gives the benefit to the defaulter.
5. Non-computerized number plates
There are many people who are going around roads without computerized number plates and due to this the CCTV cameras are unable to detect the number plate. Hence, the challan is not generated and delivered to the violator. This is still one of the major problems that E-Challan system is facing.
ii. SOLUTIONS TO THE EXISTING PROBLEMS
1. Offering other payment methods.
When the system was introduced, there was only one medium to pay the E-Challan i.e., NOP. The mediums are increasing with time, but still there isn’t many options . PSCA should increase the ease of payment like, add other banks and also other finical services like, Easypaisa, Jazz Cash. This would help a lot of people; since COVID-19 is still living around us, people wouldn’t have to stand in long queues.
2. SMS Alert
Challan should be sent via text message on violators number, as you know now phone numbers are attached with ID Cards. Through this, the violator wouldn’t have any excuse that they didn’t receive it. Also, this would help in reduction in fixed cost, the delivery cost. The PSCA can be affiliated with NADRA so data can be collected easily and in a more effective manner.
3. Solar power attached to the CCTV cameras
As the country is already under lack of resources, it can try attaching solar panels with the cameras to those areas where there is most needed. Obviously, initial steps can make huge difference and can help to make future better. Countries like USA and Canada are using this method to ensure the safety of the people as well as keeping them under surveillance .
4. QR and OCR
It will take Pakistan a lot of time to reach this type of technology. QR code stands for Quick Response Code which can be helpful for E-Challan system to maintain its quality . The code will be already present in the car – stick to the front mirror. If the camera is not able to scan it via taking picture, then the traffic warden will use a scanner installed in their phones. This will allow to give information about the penalty points as well as whether they are under recent challan or not. On the other hand, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is a technique which converts the photo into a source of data . It will be an app in their phone which will be used by the wardens to check if the number plate is computerized or not. This will surely help the E-Challan system to form fine tickets against those who have been sneaking out the entire time.
As time going to pass by, the number of vehicles will tend to increase. With this problem, the systems will reach new heights of uncertainties. It is a known factor that Pakistan position in terms of E-Challan is still weak. Previous owners are still being victimized from present violators and no action is been taken to correct them. As COVID-19 has been ruling the world for a while now, people still have to go to banks to clear their fines. The problems need to be seen properly and the government has to take strict actions against these types of violations. This system needs to be designed in such a way that it could be recognized in national level as well. The system could only attain quality if the higher body make law amendments and advertise over the media platform so people who violates the law are aware of the severe consequences. The Excise and Taxation Department should play their pivotal role in making sure the fines are collected on time. If not, they can give orders to blacklist the car owned by the violator.
With all the amendments and system corrections, people of Pakistan can actually see a breathable road. The roads could be traffic free and people would be in relief of going from one place to another quickly and safely. The number of accidents can even be reduced up to 60% due to efficient running traffic. Not only this, number of criminal activities can have significant decrease in number. People will be more aware of the traffic violations such as breaking the signals, crossing zebra line and over speeding. It is true that with the coming of E-Challan system the number of violations has reduced significantly, but again increasing with lack of responsibility.
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By: Irfan Sarwar