‘Give or Take’ by Louise Bourgeois (1990)

It’s widely believed that by standing for a few minutes on the crossroads of a city, one can understand the civic attitudes of the people of that city or the country. For an analytic and thoughtful mind, this simple exercise also helps in making some other key decisions about possibility of a business investment in that city, raising children in that society, future of standards of living, workplace ethics of employees, attitudes towards social responsibility, levels of literacy, quality of life, safe practices, etc. etc.

It’s a common notion that investment runs away from troubled societies and economies, but it’s also not difficult to find that many entrepreneurs or opportunists have managed to make it big in the same troubled circumstances. Chaos can be used in ones favor, if one knows how to pull the right or wrong strings, network with the right or wrong people, and maneuver in the right or wrong direction at the right time. The only problem is that such an endeavor helps the opportunist only and the nation or the state stay troubled.

My theory believes that managing the traffic of a city can bring peace and harmony in the city. Acceptable traffic rules of the world are all about yielding and giving the right of way rather than stealing it. The feeling of being disciplined on the road teaches a lot about and for other activities of life. Street crime faces a new deterrent. Chaos gets a new face value. A sense of neatness prevails. Order is established. Slowly the masses learn to understand how to negotiate on the crossroads of physical infrastructure and everyday life. Others personal and rightful space is respected. Right of way is understood. Giving too and not taking always becomes the first thought that comes to mind. Limitations are accepted. Fear of breaking simple regulations propagates. Necessity of following the rules is understood. Advantages of following the rules are understood. Mutual respect flourishes. Equality and merit are preferred. Life can become simple, in order and yet meaningfully on the right track.

Just because the religions and the holy books did not explicitly promote traffic regulations, it does not mean that violating traffic rules is not a sin or crime. Just because waiting for a traffic light to turn green would require waiting for half a minute, it does not mean, one can put one’s own life and others lives at risk by cutting a red light or by stealing others lawful right. Just because double parking makes it easier for me to enter the shopping mall by reducing a few steps of walking, it does not mean that I can block someone to wait unnecessarily for my return. Why would I think of creating a bottleneck on the road and inconvenience the passing cars, not knowing that some of them may have an emergency to deal with. Why should I be responsible for creating road rage?  How can I be mindlessly driving on the road while talking on my phone, while others on the road have to make unnecessary and dangerous maneuvers to pass me? Many similar examples can be given to show that inconsideration for others on the road are synonymous with denying basic rights to fellow human beings. All religions consider rights of fellow human beings more important than anything else.

Order is as natural a process as is chaos rebellious and also instinctive. Some believe that chaos when exceeds a certain limit tends to establish a chaotic order, and people assimilate thinking that the new order in the best order. The only problem with this direction is that it leads to more chaos or chaotic order rather than trying to bring the order back. It is easy to blame on the infrastructure of a poor country on the chaos in traffic, but studies show that 57% of the traffic problems or accidents are related to human errors, 27% to combined roadway and driver factors, 6% to combined vehicle and driver factors, 3% solely to roadway factors, 3% to combined roadway, driver, and vehicle factors, 2% solely to vehicle factors and 1% to combined roadway and vehicle factors.  It goes without saying that statistics are like a bikini, because sometimes what they reveal is only suggestive and what they conceal turns out to be vital. We for the purposes of our theory have to take these statistics as our primary scientific assumption. Our assumption is also enforced when we see that many streets in many countries of the world are not always wide enough to cater to the volume of traffic but proper traffic management solves many problems.

Let’s first see what the possible problems are in implementing an effective traffic management system in a city like Karachi. In a society where petty display of power, wealth and pedigree are important to live a normal life, it becomes difficult to implement traffic regulations on the road. The law enforcing officers are more scared of the driver rather than the driver being scared of the officer. Bigger cars with shining green emblems become the biggest hindrance. Breaking traffic rules is a fashion and is more rampant in Karachi than any other major city of Pakistan. Other problem would be to ensure payment of penalties for traffic violations. Corruption and under hand payments to traffic enforcing officers need to be curtailed. Public has to believe that the penalty payments are going to the government and not in the pockets of some officers. A quick and efficient system for making penalty payments would be required. A simple and acceptable system of filing and processing complaints against traffic penalties has to be developed. Public has to believe that the fines are being used for creating jobs, improving the traffic management systems and maintenance of existing systems. More parking facilities, parking meters and advanced facilities are added. People would want to see clean roads. Public would also like better emergency response systems, towing facilities, risk management and appropriate insurance coverage etc. There can be many more possible problems but let’s make the above mentioned as our second set of assumptions to support the theory and the good faith that is intended.

With some knowledge of objectives, supporting statistics and foreseeable problems, now is the time to start making suggestions for improvement of the traffic management system. The suggestions mentioned in the next few paragraphs might seem quite ridiculous to many, but under the circumstances nothing better could succeed the limitations of an average mind.

  1. Form a private company that is given the task of traffic management. Let’s name it “Fairworld Traffic Management Company” or FTMC.
  2. FTMC is not a law enforcing authority but a service oriented and customer oriented facility provided to the public for their benefit. FTMC advertises the objectives and facilities on regular basis in various forms of mass communication.
  3. FTMC runs public campaigns to educate the public about traffic regulations.
  4. FTMC is mandated by the federal government, provincial government, local government, police departments etc to implement traffic regulations in selected streets as a pilot project.
  5. The Government does not provide any funds to FTMC but provides all legal, administrative and moral support to FTMC. This could be a real challenge for the government.
  6. FTMC sets up a call center to assist the public for conflict resolution, towing and insurance needs.
  7. State Bank of Pakistan prints “traffic violation tickets” on security paper. Security paper is a document which can demonstrate tamper evidence when fraud is attempted. The “traffic violation tickets” having unique serial numbers are handed over to FTMC, with proper inventory management systems.
  8. Government of Pakistan establishes special independent traffic courts for hearing complaints from charged traffic violators. Many countries make this process tedious, to curb this practice. This results in lesser complaints but also lesser traffic violations.
  9. The “traffic violation ticket” has information about the Name, NID, License, mailing address of the violator. It also shows the location of the traffic violation. All possible violations are present on the ticket and the traffic officer just ticks the relevant violation. The violator signs the receipt of the ticket, if possible.
  10. On back side of the ticket, all possible options for contesting a ticket in prescribed traffic courts are given. The numbers of the call centers are also given to assist the traffic violators, as necessary.
  11. FTMC confiscates the driver’s license and NID of the violator and returns only when penalties are paid.
  12. FTMC takes 50% of all revenues collected from imposed penalties.
  13. FTMC returns the monies (remaining 50%) collected from violators along with the supporting counterfoils of the issued “traffic violation tickets” to the State Bank of Pakistan.
  14. A crew is formed that comprises of a traffic officer, two smart and armed local policemen, a cashier, a high speed patrol car, a cash van with internet connection. Such crews are duplicated for every area/ premises of the pilot project.
  15. A violator has the option of making payments instantly to the cash van.
  16. Cash van registers all traffic violator’s data, payments etc on an online database.
  17. FTMC creates traffic management zones in the city to be serviced by a crew.
  18. FTMC appoints traffic officers out of the social system. E.g tall white blonde men and women from Western Europe and tall muscular black men and women from Central Africa. It’s a job requirement for an extremely hazardous job, so any criticism of discrimination in employment is out of question.
  19. When the public starts believing in the traffic management system, and the foreign traffic officers have trained the local traffic wardens, the foreign staff can be expatriated.
  20. A team of FTMC traffic specialists and transportation specialists study the roads and intersections within the traffic zones and suggest alternatives for better traffic management to the local authorities and departments.
  21. Parking spaces are created with road linings with parking meters. This would fall under the jurisdiction of FTMC. Modern technologies are installed with parking meters where users can use credit cards, prepaid tickets, SMS tickets etc.
  22. Options for Urban regeneration of streets, parking spots, parking plazas etc are studies by FTMC and recommendations made to the local governments/ departments.
  23. FTMC acquires up-to-date data from NADRA and Ministry of Transportation about the registered drivers, registered cars, insured vehicles, vehicles with theft proof systems, and their home addresses. FTMC shall strive to maintain an up-to-date database. All new vehicles shall have a mandatory FTMC registration.
  24. CCTV cameras are installed at intersections and registration plates and pictures of drivers/ traffic violators are recorded. Such violations with proof are recorded in the Traffic management Software/ database. In a country where the home addresses may not be the same as the addresses on the driver’s license or the NID, FTMC would check for previous violations in the database before processing any new violation.

A few decades ago, when I was leaving Pakistan to study abroad, one my friends commented that I may cherish the liberties which are allowed in third world countries. My reply was, I want to stand in a line and see everyone doing that. I want to follow the law and see others trying to do that too. I was born in the “3rd world”, and spent a good part of my life in the 3rd world, so one can say that I am a byproduct of the 3rd world and therefore I think I can safely call it as my world too. It’s only after watching the 1st world in the media and traveling through various shapes of it for short intervals and then living there for a few years I managed to realize the differences and illusions about both. Once born and raised in one world, it becomes difficult to understand the other world completely. All the countries in the third world have almost similar problems. Poverty, food, water, shelter, education, healthcare, clothing, skills, technology, low production, imports, exports, dependency on agriculture, low incomes, low investments, infrastructure, debts, loans, extravagance, corruption, over population, and most of lack of hope. In the 3rd world, we think we are all Schumachers and Rossis, the small city street is a NASCAR track and we are about to win Daytona 500. I call them fire marshals, when I see them. They are going to put out the fire somewhere. We don’t have autobahns in the third world but we also don’t observe speed limits. Only an overly observant eye would notice the traffic signs even in the remotest of villages. Pakistan has most of the traffic signs according to international standards, especially in bigger cities. It is also not wrong to say that looking at the level of responsibility seen on the roads one can declare that the existing infrastructure of roadways, signs and layouts are much more than people deserve. You can start by asking yourself have you ever noticed them or remotely observed what they are asking you to do.  And if a majority says, “no”, or “who cares”, or “everything goes in Pakistan”, then my theory has no base and you will never understand the significance of it.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012%5C08%5C07%5Cstory_7-8-2012_pg3_5

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012%5C08%5C08%5Cstory_8-8-2012_pg3_4

Fair World 101 strives to make this world a fair world by being fair himself first.