Parents demand leniency for schoolgoing kids

Khalid Iqbal
Monday, Dec 04, 2023

Rawalpindi:Although the local law enforcement agencies are in full action against underage driving and have so far registered hundreds of First Information Reports (FIRs) against the violators and step is in accordance with the laws enacted in Pakistan, however, the dilemma for the parents of around 90 per cent of these violators is that most of the kids are allowed by them to ride at such a tender age due to one compulsion or another.

The basic need for these kids is to either take their siblings to schools or colleges on a motorcycle because the parents cannot afford costly private transport services, because of an absence of public transport. The majority of the parents have appealed to the policymakers to at least reconsider the heavier fines for youngsters who ride motorcycles just because of necessity and not for leisure.

They have suggested that youngsters should be shown some leniency and they must be asked to put on helmets and ride in a prescribed manner instead of rash driving. They said that the decision makers should know the reality that an underage driver Afnan Shafqat Awan who killed six members of a family living in a posh locality in Lahore was driving a luxurious car and not a motorcycle. They said that due to such a hasty approach, millions of poor motorcyclists have to find escape routes from law enforcement agencies to avoid FIRs.

Before passing such kinds of orders, the policy makers should think about how many facilities the government is providing to the public particularly for schoolgoing underage children in the country, parents, and common citizens belonging to different walks of life told ‘The News’ here on Sunday.

After the Lahore High Court (LHC) decision, the law enforcement agencies especially police and traffic wardens have become very active in registering (FIRs) against underage drivers (particularly motorcyclists) and schoolgoing boys and girls in age groups between 10 to 14. According to information, around 2,141 schoolgoing underage drivers have been kept either in police lockups or Adiala Jail in which over 1,500 underage schoolgoing boys have got bail while others are still languishing in jails. An FIR means the destruction of the future of a youngster.

It is worth mentioning here that not only boys but a large number of girls have been seen going to schools or offices on motorcycles due to the high ratio of transport fares. “We are ready to leave motorcycles if the government provides us cheaper sources of transportation but unfortunately 1-liter petrol was selling at Rs283. Nobody takes action against the high living cost, the public bemoaned. The Chief Traffic Officer (CTO) Official Spokesman Umair Satti told ‘The News’ that traffic wardens have registered 1,033 FIRs against (underage drivers) only in 13 days. While City Police Officer (CPO) Official Spokesman Sajjad Shah said that police have registered a total of 1,108 FIRs in 13 days against underage drivers.

They said that they are helpless before the orders of the Lahore High Court (LHC) therefore they are obeying this order.

Some key post officers from traffic and police on condition of anonymity said that 99 per cent of FIRs were registered against underage ‘motorcyclists’ while only 1 per cent of FIRs were registered against underage car drivers. ‘The News’ interviewed affected parents and other citizens belonging to different walks of life who have appealed to the government to provide them with a cheaper source of transportation so they should not allow their underage children to use motorcycles. They said that private pick-and-drop school vans demand Rs10,000 to Rs15,000 while transport fares are also high. Private transporters are charging Rs50 stop-to-stop and Rs130 for the last stop, so could a family afford such high charges? Policymakers and decision-makers do not think about such things, parents and common citizens said.

Muhammad Ramzan, a father said that I have two daughters and a son. My son is 15 years old and he picks and drops his sisters at school. He drops his sisters to college first and then goes to his school. But, police have registered an FIR against him on charges of underage driving. “How I can handle all these issues, but policymakers and decision-makers not considering it,” he strongly protested. Dr Uzma Ifran, a local said that in which direction the government was going, God knows better. The innocent brains were continuously going to police lock ups or jails. The government should take action against those who commit crimes. The criminals drive a luxurious car and not a bike but our police and traffic wardens are continuously registering FIRs against motorcyclists, she bemoaned.