Problems have arisen with distribution of traffic police’s database software SIM cards
KARACHI: The database software launched last week by the Karachi traffic police’s licence department, in collaboration with a telecom service provider, turned out to be ineffective, as most of the traffic police officials complained of not receiving the facility.
The database can access driver’s licence details, criminal records and vehicle details by inserting a driver’s Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) number in a mobile phone with a special SIM card. Licence department DIG Aftab Pathan had claimed that the software could ensure transparency in his department and force negligent drivers to obtain proper licences.
According to him, special chips have been installed in the SIMs that can access the details of drivers whose licences have been issued by the Karachi licence department. He said that 1,000 SIMs have been issued by Ufone and distributed among all traffic police personnel.
However, the project has yet to kick off. The section officer of the Zaman Town traffic section, Liaqat Habib, and Gulistan-e-Jauhar’s ASI Maula Bux said they have not received the SIMs and so far they do not have any instant facility to monitor driving licences. In order to verify a licence, they have to send it to the licence branch, which takes a day or two. “Who has the time to involve themselves in such a strenuous task?” asked Bux.
On the other hand, the head constable of the Karsaz police check-post, Syed Muhammad Ali, said he had received the SIM cards. However, he said they were useless as they have only been provided the SIM cards and not mobile phones.
“Not all traffic police personnel have dual SIM mobile phones,” he said. “Even if they do, they have to pay Rs100 from their own pockets to activate the SIMs.” He asked why any traffic police official would be willing to do that.
Pathan brushed aside all these complaints. “We have dispatched the SIMs to all the traffic police officials,” he said, adding that the SIMs ran for free. He did, however, accept that there might be instances where policeman did not have dual SIM mobiles and, in that case, they would consider dispatching mobile phones as well. “But for that we have to look at our budget,” he pointed out.
Pathan said he had not received any data on the system’s success yet, however, before its launch instances of the verification of driver’s licences were nil. “Only in the case of serious accidents did we receive applications for the verification of licences,” he said.
According to him, 87 per cent of the driver’s licences in Pakistan are illegal. “This means the number of fake licences in Karachi must also be very high,” he deduced. Pathan expressed his hope that this system will help reduce the prevalence of illegal licences.
How the system works
Clifton licence branch admin DSP Imran explained to The Express Tribune how the software worked. “You just have to type *15# on the mobile phone,” he said, adding that you will be given four options: registration details, vehicle stolen, criminal record and licence details.
According to him the registration details then give you three options: engine number, registration number and the chassis number. He said that the vehicle stolen option also gave the same options.
The criminal record option is not functional as yet. “It is also not the mandate of the traffic police to check the criminal or the vehicle stolen record,” he said, adding that in the future, the Sindh Police might end up availing this facility.
However, the licence’s expiry and date of issuance are still missing. The DSP said that this was a fault in their system, which will be fixed soon.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2015.