DIG traffic Ameer Sheikh on Tuesday declared wearing helmets mandatory for motorcyclists as well as pillions in Karachi, effective from June 1, 2015. Now, even females who mount on motorbikes as pillions will have to wear the head armour.
The DIG pointed out that wearing helmet was already a rule in India and the practice is being adopted here as a step towards ensuring safety of the motorcyclists who remain exposed to greater risks on roads. Although the step is a welcome one, it drew critical comments from public on social media.
Some people said it would only put an extra burden on their pockets in a situation where price hike has already shot off the roof. They expressed concern that the sudden implementation of this regulation will surge the demand for helmets in the market. And retailers will have a field day as they would use this situation to their advantage by charging the consumers at their will.
As an initial impact the product could also disappear from the market altogether.
On the other hand, some women also took to the social media sites to express their concerns over the new regulation. To some women even the thought of carrying and wearing helmet is as awkward and scary as it can be. While, females who take hijabs and burqas are also at a loss as to how they would manage wearing helmets.
There is one section of motorcyclists who believe that the step must have been taken to benefit some business tycoon or a group of traders who are in the business of importing and/or selling helmets.
Others are concerned that the new law will open big doors for traffic police to take bribe.
Despite being the largest metropolitan city, Karachi does not have proper public transport system. Passenger buses are too short in number which shrinks further on CNG off days. The other problem that the passengers who travel at night have to face is they hardly find public transport in late hours. This leaves a common, poor man to sometimes rely on hitch hiking. They normally take lifts from passing by motorcycles. Thus, the question arises: how are they going to comply with the requirement of helmet?
Those who have been facing repeated and prolonged government imposed bans on pillion riding are considering it a yet another restriction of the same sort which, this time around, will not even spare women and older people.
There is also an impression that target killers riding pillion have been found wearing helmets in the past and CCTV footages have also captured images confirming the same. There have been instances where police stopped bikers with pillions as both of them wore helmets and became suspicious. The police even ordered the pillions to take off their helmets. This is an important factor that must be kept in view, as target killers could misuse this regulation.
The DIG traffic is very right in declaring helmet as mandatory in view of people’s safety. But, certain relaxations must be considered where it is not possible to be implemented.
It is also a very common sight on roads where we find a family comprising parents and small kids traveling on a motorbike. Will the small kids be required to wear helmets too?
Karachi is the biggest city of Pakistan where metro bus system should have been launched like Lahore and Islamabad. The entire traffic system should have been reformed. The already-present traffic laws should have been implemented and condition and number of public transport should have been improved. Such steps would have brought about marked improvement in traffic management and considerably reduced the number road accidents.
It is yet to be seen if the regulation of wearing helmets will also be mandatory for Chingchi driver and its passengers.