SWAT: Many people from Swat have been ‘riding dirty,’ driving without proper licenses – some for more than two years. Traffic police, however, are considered unfair in issuing them tickets because the license violation is of no fault of their own.
“Every week the motorway police gives me a ticket because I don’t have a driver’s license, which I applied for two years ago and still have not received,” said Sher Afzal Khan, who drives a minibus from Mingora to Rawalpindi on the Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway.
Fed up with paying a fortune in unfair traffic fines, many people like Khan have come forward with their complaints and have threatened to protest if the government did not address the 9,000 drivers’ licenses that have not been issued to applicants.
There are three types of government-issued licenses – motor car driving license, LTV ( Light Transport Vehicle) license and HTV (Heavy Transport Vehicle) license.
Khan applied for an HTV with Swat’s licensing authority in Mingora in October 2012, after which he was handed a token he was told could be used when pulled over by traffic police. Unfortunately, motorway traffic police have their own set of rules and according to Khan, its officials did not accept this informal documentation, and charged him for driving illegally instead.
A regular ticket on the Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway costs around Rs700, and if Khan was paying this fine on a regular basis since October 2012, it amounts to a small fortune for the average person.
“I don’t need it anymore, because I have suffered enough,” Khan said, lashing out at the concerned authorities. He further complained that on making an inquiry regarding his long-awaited license, Mingora department officials give ‘dodgy’ responses, saying that they do not want to issue this license to anyone.
Bakht Munir, a resident of Kabal tehsil, shares Khan’s frustrations, as he applied for an LTV in October 2012. This was Munir’s second attempt at applying because the first time his application was rejected due to a spelling mistake. He too is fed up and has stopped going to the office in Mingora.
Abdullah, a university student from Kanju village, said that he was driving his car illegally – but not because he wants to.
“The government has forced me to break the law,” he said.
He applied for a driving license, with all proper fees and documentations submitted, in February 2013, but has yet to receive the document. After making visits to the licensing authority’s main office in Mingora several times, he too has given up.
Angered by the department’s attitude, Abdullah said that he recently took out his frustrations on traffic police who tried to give him a ticket.
“I refuse to give the government more money in fines. It’s not my fault but there’s,” he said.
An official of the license department in Mingora said that the issue came under the jurisdiction of DSP Mubarak Khan. However, Khan said that the matter should be taken up with District Police Officer (DPO) Swat, Sher Akbar Khan.
Khan revealed that the delay was due to a shortage in the material used to print the official license document, adding that the applications had been sent to the main office in Peshawar and have been lying there since the last 18 months.
“It’s not that the government does not want to issue licenses but the lack of material is creating hurdles in their issuance,” Khan said.
The DPO did not have a timeline for the issue to be resolved, but he recommended that the government should install more printers in every district in the province, adding that he had done his part and the ball was now in the court of the provincial capital, Peshawar.
“The district license department is not responsible for that delay.”