Traffic jams a regular thing in major cities like Lahore and Karachi. The situation was made worse in Lahore recently due to the construction of the Yellow Train’s track. Several roads became unusable which prompted people to use alternate routes and traffic jams became worse.
The government has made efforts to fix this issue by constructing signal free corridors, overhead bridges and underpasses but the problem persisted.
The traffic management system of Lahore is the core of the problem which needs to improved.
Safe Cities Authority To The Rescue
Punjab Safe Cities Authority (PSCA), a department that was established recently, is working on an integrated traffic management system for Lahore. It has conducted a survey in the city in order to know which solutions would work best to solve this issue and what should be added or removed from the system to make it better.
PSCA will be collaborating with Traffic Engineering and Transport Planning Agency (TEPA) to put up signboards in various areas in Lahore with safety information on them.
Some of the City’s Traffic Police officials were also sent to Dubai for training for the new traffic systems that are going to established in the city.
New Traffic Light Poles
Currently there are varying types of traffic lights in Lahore. Some of them are automated with timers while others are operated manually. All of the traffic lights will be automated by the PSCA and the lights will be replaced with ones that follow the international standard. They will be of a uniform size that can be seen clearly from a distance.
LED lights will be used with stronger poles as well.
The new traffic light poles will have special pedestrian buttons on them. This will encourage the people to use this facility while crossing the road through a zebra crossing. The buttons probably change the signal on the pole to allow people to cross the road with no vehicles coming in.
Currently a lot of major cities do not have roads with separate lanes for motorcycles. This causes problems with motorcyclists often cutting lanes and making the rest of the traffic vehicles compensate for them. This in turn increases the risk of accidents as well.
PSCA will be providing separate lanes for motorcycles as well in the new traffic management system. How exactly they will accomplish this wasn’t mentioned.
Number Plate Recognizing Cameras
PSCA is going to put up more than 10,000 cameras in various locations in the city. These cameras are called Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras and monitor the traffic to detect any violations.
The cameras can detect any sort of traffic violation whether it is switching lanes inappropriately, running through a red light, motorcyclists not wearing a helmet or drivers not drivers not fastening their seat belts.
The cameras can watch up to two lanes at a time and detect three traffic violations at any given time. They will take a photograph of the violator and generate an alarm in the area where its installed.
Two of these cameras, installed on Lahore High Court Chowk have detected 17,000 violations in just 40 days.
The Flaw in This Solution
As these cameras detect violations based on number plates, they can be avoided easily. If your car does not have a number plate registered with the Excise and Taxation department, you can avoid being detected.
PSCA will start a campaign on standardizing the number plates according to Excise and Taxation Department standards. If a plate does not meet these standards, it will be destroyed.
Punjab Government has already passed a bill for this. Anyone which uses a non-standard number plate will be imprisoned for 5 years according to this bill.
PSCA has requested the Excise and Taxation department to clear its backlog of un-registered number plates as soon as possible.
The E-Challan System
Here is where the E-Challan system comes into place. Upon detecting a violation, the ticket is sent to the Excise department where information about the owner of the number plate is checked. The ticket is then sent to the home address of the violator along with other information about their violation.
The cameras can only detect standardized number plates. PSCA has to manually note down the numbers of the vehicles with non-standard number plates. These are then cross checked with Excise and Taxation Department’s database.
No Address? No Problem
If the registered number plate does not have the owner’s home address recorded in the Excise and Taxation department’s database. there is another solution. The department can use the cell-phone number of the owner to call and locate them.
If they don’t have the number in the database, they can use CNICs to request the number from telecom companies instead.
Vehicle Registration Procedures To Change
PSCA has proposed a system where the vehicle can only be registered in the city it is purchased in. Furthermore, they will have 30 days to get the vehicle registered. Cars that have been purchased with non standardized number plates will also have 30 days to get it properly registered. If they don’t comply within this time period, the plate will be deemed illegal.
In case of a vehicle being sold to a buyer and the record of its registration not being updated by the seller, the previous owner will be liable to the fines incurred by the new owner.
PSCA is also looking to link the annual token tax of a vehicle owner with any unpaid fines incurred by them.
All of these changes will surely help the traffic situation in Lahore in the long run. Implementation is key and if it does not get properly implemented (like other government schemes and offers) then it will be just more of the same for the citizens of Lahore.
We hope that this system can be installed and brought into working condition as early as possible. If it’s a success, hopefully it will be replicated across other major cities.