Transport Dept mulls stricter laws to enforce rules

IMPHAL,6th Sep: Baring display of ‘no helmet, no petrol’ notices at retail outlets, the much hyped government declaration that petrol should not be sold to two-wheel riders who do not wear the protective gear seems to be having no serious takers.

Apparently taken aback by the lukewarm public response to what was essentially a government initiative for safeguarding the lives of the motorists, the Transport Department is seriously mulling to frame stricter laws to tackle those who are reluctant to defy safety norms.

For the record, the government of Manipur made it public to enforce ‘no helmet, no petrol’ rule on August 16, 2016 and followed up with issuance of official notification on September 1 the same year that the rule will come into effect.

Though there were ample signs of the public heeding the government call and the fuel outlets complying with the same while helmetless motorists raised a hue and dry that the stricture is merely intended to spur sale of helmets, adherence to the government guideline has literally been reduced to management of fuel outlets ensuring that the ‘no helmet, no petrol’ notices put up at their sale counters remain intact.

After 2-3 months of strict enforcement of the rule, including police and traffic officers closely monitoring activities at retail outlets, it has become a common sight to spot motorists, both wearing helmets and those without, filling their tanks and the monitoring officials no more visible. Interestingly, a Transport Department official speaking under condition of anonymity contended that failure to effectively enforce the guideline is due to casual attitude and conduct on the part of the fuel retailers.

While observing that scepticism among management of the fuel outlets to enforce the guidelines might be due to wrong perception of such norms affecting their sales, the official lamented that the government initiative basically aimed at safety of the citizens is on the verge of complete failure owing to non-cooperation by the profit-oriented fuel retailers.

Not ruling out possibility of police personnel invisible at the fuel outlets as one of the reasons for the retail outlets unable to enforce the rule, the official confided that the Transport Department is determined to ensure that neither provision of Motor Vehicles Act nor standard traffic rules are violated by any person.

Further disclosing that the department is processing to amend motor vehicle laws to make them more effective for penalising violators of prescribed norms, the official maintained that authorities of line departments will be consulted soon to devise effective mechanism. When contacted, superintendent of police (traffic) Khoisnam Sarma opined that shortage of traffic personnel is partly responsible for failure to enforce the ‘no helmet, no petrol’ rule.

With over 117 vacant posts out of the total sanctioned strength yet to be filled up the existing traffic personnel are virtually over-burdened, the SP said and expressed confidence that ensuring sufficient number of traffic police will help curb violation of traffic rules to a great extent. Another problem probably linked to manpower shortage relate to sporadic instances of motorists using abusive words and intimidating traffic police at traffic points which are manned by a single traffic man or woman, Sarma revealed and mooted that deployment of additional traffic personnel and stationing two-wheel mounted traffic personnel at strategic points might help check such nuisances.

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