TNN correspondent Zahidullah Khan talking to a Chingchi driver in Charsadda.

By Zahidullah Khan

CHARSADDA, 14 December: It is not only the abundance of vehicular traffic that has caused increase in the ratio of road accidents. There are also some other contributing factors that include reckless driving and violation of traffic rules by motorists and bikers.   .

Over the recent past, we have a new mode of transportation called the motorcycle rickshaws, locally known as “chingchi” which is different from  taxi rikshaw. These chingchis replaced the traditional tongas (horse carts) and became faster and cheaper source of transportation plying on roads in the length and breadth of Pakistan.

A chingchi usually carries six passengers, in addition to the driver. Apart from its handiness, these motorcycle rickshaws are very much vulnerable to accidents and tragedies as these are usually being driven by immature and inexperienced drivers. Most of them do not have proper knowledge of traffic rules and training  as a result, they not only put human lives at risk but  also create annoyance for other motorists while roaming in the busy bazaars.

According to an official source in the traffic police department, there are round about 2000 chingchi rickshaws in the Charsadda district. With the increase in number of these chingchis, the ratio of accidents has also increased manifolds.

“Over the recent past, an increase has been witnessed in the ratio of road accidents,” said Dr. Altaf Ahmad, head of the Emergency unit of DHQ Charsada. He added the hospital received 15 to 20 accident cases on daily basis saying, “the reason for most of the accidents are underage drivers”.

Social and public circles have raised questions over the performance of the district traffic police for not paying attention to the issue of underage driving.

“It is not the duty of the public to check whether the person driving the rickshaw has proper license or not,” said Ijaz Khan, a local of Charsada, usallu travle by Chingchis with unlicensed and juvenile drivers.

“It is the duty of the traffic police. If the law exists, then why it is not being enforced,” he questioned.

TNN spoke to 14-year old Hasan who drives a chingchi rickshaw for the last one and a half year. “I was fined twice for picking passengers from a wrong place but never for underage driving,” he informed. He said he did not have computerized national identity card that was why he could not get a driving license but had been in the business to feed his family.

The local traffic police authorities admit the underage driving was one of the factors of increase in the number of road accidents but said they could not control it alone.

“In district Charsada, 90 percent of chingchi drivers do not have licenses but we have no other option except to challan(ticket) them,” said Fazl Fida Khan, incharge traffic circle.

“It is also the responsibility of parents to forbid their children from driving,” he remarked.

However, residents of Charsadda are looking forward to the traffic police high ups to take initiative and launch an effective drive against underage driving in the district.



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