New ITP law governing helmet usage aimed at exploitation of poor


ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad Traffic Police (ITP) has made it mandatory for bikers to wear helmets in the federal capital, however within the past few days, a large number of poor and struggling people have been fined irrespective of their limited capacity to pay, Pakistan Today observed.

According to Assistant Sub-Inspector Hanif Sawati, a total of 15,167 people have been fined within a span of 15 days and the collected fine amounts to Rs 1,516,700.

On the first day of the implementation of the law, almost 1,500 violators were fined, triggering public protests.

The violators were mostly the poor who seek a bike ride to commute to and from work.  The protesters demonstrated against the law arguing that it will deter them from getting to work.

Interestingly, police authorities are unhappy and remain divided over the new SOP since a large number of traffic police officials can be frequently witnessed seeking a ride from motorcyclists. A traffic policeman seeking anonymity said it is not possible for the poor struggling to make their ends meet to purchase a helmet worth Rs 1,500.

Since we are in uniform, so we have to ensure the implementation of the new law, he said sounding helpless.

It is pertinent to mention here that the implementation of the new law can promote pilfering/theft and many other criminal activities in the capital since it will be not possible to differentiate between people as the bike rider and the pillion must both wear helmets.

Muhammad Irfan, a bike rider while talking to Pakistan Today, said if someone is in emergency and needs to be rushed to the hospital, he may not be able to seek a bike ride.

Islamabad is the first city of Pakistan where the new rule governing helmet usage for bike riders, including pillions, has been implemented. As per the new SOP, motorcyclists, including women and children pillions, must wear helmets. Failure to abide by the law will result in imposition of fine on the rider and the pillion.

To facilitate the riders in this regard, the ITP has requested the administration to direct motorbike showrooms to provide two helmets for every bike they sell.

Previously, a month-long campaign was launched to educate motorcyclists since the objective of raising awareness of the importance of using helmets is a challenging one. After the campaign concluded, the authorities were ordered to implement the new rule.

During the campaign, a large number of bikers were made aware of the consequences of not wearing helmets while riding and about 300 sponsored helmets were distributed among the commuters in this regard.

Fine for not wearing a helmet has been set at Rs 100 and will have to be paid by both pillion and the rider if the pillion is in violation of the law.

Despite repeated attempts, Islamabad Traffic Police SSP Malik Matloob was not available for remarks on the matter.