No Proper Patrolling on Massive Roads of Balochistan!
By Yahya Reki:
Quetta: It was 29th January, Saturday early in the morning at 04:30 AM when we came out of home and started the journey towards Karachi. We were just crossing a roundabout near Khezai Chowk and met a horrible accident. A Fielder vehicle collided with our vehicle.
As a result, my husband died on the spot and I got injuries on my head, neck, and a broken hand. Our two children 1 year and 6 years old, were also injured in the incident. Adds Nargis Hyder Shah while talking to me. A 1-year-old child was in critical condition but the doctors did their best and saved him.
It was early in the morning and there was no traffic on the road that’s why rescue teams came and shifted us to the hospital. As I got very injured Trauma center management denied admitting me there, then the family members shifted me to Karachi and got admitted to Agha Khan Hospital After one and half month’s hospitalization I recovered my injuries.
She holds a Master’s Degree in “International Relations” (MA-IR) from the University of Balochistan in 2014. She adds, Life never stopped after losing someone but we can’t delete memories of our beloved one. I am living to educate my children and give them new life. Late Hyder was a very great man who supported the needed people. I feel happy when listening to good words and prayers from people about him.
Mrs. Shah adds, that people’s life is very precious and we can never fulfill the lives lost. She requested the government of Balochistan and the federal government to make a double carriageway Quetta Karachi and Zhob Route to decrease the death toll rise in traffic accidents.
According to the National Safety Strategy 2018-2030, 6,548 people had lost their lives at the scene of an accident on Pakistan’s roads in 2016, of which 355 fatalities happened on national highways and 6,003 on provincial roads. The report is administered by Asian Development Bank and cites police data.
People’s Primary Healthcare Initiative (PPHI), a company sponsored by Government of Balochistan established a Medical Emergency Response Centers (MERC) project in October 2019 to control the death toll in traffic accidents. Aziz Ahmed Jamali, then CEO of PPHI and Project Director MERC informed that people lost lives in accidents essentially due to blood loss, bone fractures and severe pain. Rescue workers of MERC provide lifesaving services on the spot which is a huge contribution towards accident response.
According to the report of Medical Emergency Response Center, Rescue-1122 Balochistan, 624 patients have died in traffic accidents on Quetta Karachi route since October 2019 to 31st August 2022. MERC teams Responded 23,418 accidents on time, where 31,412 injured were provided first aid treatment from October 2019 to 31st August 2022.
Death toll had significantly decreased on roads after operations of MERC. Our Rescue workers are playing a vital role to save lives. Adds Mr. Asghar Ramzan Director General Medical Emergency Response Centers Balochistan. He adds, there are 18 rescue centers on Quetta Karachi, Quetta Zhob, Quetta Loralai and Quetta to Jaffarabad route. People can call 1122 directly to our control room to get an emergency response from one of our nearest centers during an emergency situation along the above-mentioned routes of National highways. He further adds, 23 equipped ambulances are operational and 486 staff have deployed on roads who provide first aid services to the injured.
Apart from that, MERC 1122 has introduced an Advanced Life Support ALS Ambulance for most critical patients. 90 patients were shifted by ALS Ambulance service to main cities of Pakistan for treatment. The MERC teams are ready 24/7 hours on roads. The maximum distance between two centers is 80-Kilometer and recorded response time is 8 to 10 minutes.
The Provincial Transport Authority doesn’t have power to take action on violation of Traffic Accidents. We just recommend Motorway Police and Levies Force for action on violations, that’s why we are losing huge amounts of revenue generation annually. Adds Zafar Iqbal Kubdani, Secretary Provincial Transport Authority (PTA) Balochistan while talking to me. The authority is still working on a manual system and “we are unable to collect and combine the data properly in official format”, he adds.
Mr. Kubdani adds, Provincial Transport Authority Balochistan had issued more than 6000 route permits to the passenger carrier buses. We have installed 316 trackers in transport buses to control over speeding, in this regard the department has established a control room for complaints registration.
He further adds, we do cancel permits of buses on heavy life losses and in other cases just arrest drivers and fine them. The authority has cancelled Route permit of 5 buses. “We have written many letters to the district administration to take action on violation of departmental rules against transporters but they are unable to do so.” Mr. Kubdani revealed.
He adds, we have got the authority of Judicial Magistrate and Government of Balochistan has approved establishment of a special force for the Provincial Transport Authority. We will start the recruitment process very soon. After that we will take strict action against transporters for violation of traffic rules.
The Motorway covers 150-Kilometers on N-25 at Uthal, 210-Kilometers from Abdul Rehman Cross Kalat to Yaro cross Pishin, and Only 100-Kilometer on Killa Saifullah N-50 from Kuchlak to Muslim Bagh. The Motorway Police also covers 160-Kilometers on N-10 Gwadar from Makola to Jiwani Zero Point on the coastal belt. Adds Basharat Ali Spokesperson National Highways and Motorway Police Basharat Ali while talking to me.
According to the report received from National Highways and Motorway Police Balochistan, Challan were issued to 1,31,116 motorcyclists riding without helmet, 1,34,438 vehicles driving without fastening seat Belt and 11,285 wagon drivers carrying passengers in dangerous position since January 2018 to August 2022.
The report revealed that traffic violations have decreased. The Motorway officials issued challan to 5546 drivers in 2018 which increases and 6931 in 2019. The ratio decreased in 2020 and 5736 challans were issued. According to the report it has decreased in 2021 with the number of 2016 and Since January to August 2022, 1886 Challans were issued.
Apart from that National Highways and Motorway Police conduct awareness sessions with Transporters, General Public, Students of School, College and Universities and educate them about traffic rules which is helpful to decrease traffic rules violations and safe driving on roads.
The International Labour Organization in its 65th Session held on 6 June 1979 at Geneva gave recommendations on driving and other work during the running time of the vehicle; and subsidiary work in connection with the vehicle, its passenger or its load and said normal working hours should not exceed eight per day as an average. ILO further recommends that no driver should be allowed to drive continuously for more than four hours without break.
Unfortunately, there is no proper way to patrol thousands of kilometers of massive roads of Balochistan with the limited police manpower in the province. Especially on the Quetta Karachi Road, the drivers drive continuously for up to 72 hours without any proper rest. The drivers are untrained and they learn only from the accidents at a huge human cost.