In the first three weeks of January 2015, more than 15 people lost their lives in road accidents in Muzaffarabad and Kotli districts of AJK.
Road accidents and related fatalities are a common occurrence in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), yet government departments do not seem to be taking precautionary measures to save lives. Traffic police of the region has also failed to motivate the public to observe road safety rules.
Due to over speeding and dilapidated roads, every day citizens die across AJK. According to Secretary Transport Authority AJK, Abdul Hameed Kiyani, speeding, old vehicles and the negligence of Motor Vehicle Examiners are the main reasons of frequent road mishaps.
Regulation of traffic on roads as per the directions and guidelines set by the transport authority is unsatisfactory, and Motor Vehicle Examiners are not seen doing their job, said Shahid Wani, a local resident of the capital city of AJK. Wani used to travel in his own car, but now chooses not to. “Till the 1990s people preferred to travel in buses; now, we don’t have a guarantee of the maintenance of buses on the roads of AJK. Anything can happen,” he said.
In AJK, there are hardly any rehabilitation and post-accident trauma centres to treat accident victims, which is a big challenge for people who are at the helm of affairs in the AJK Transport Authority.
Failure is being seen with regards to the administration punishing those transporters and drivers who indulge in overspeeding. Shah Ghulam Qadir is the Secretary General of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) AJK chapter, who belongs to the constituency of Neelum Valley, the site of many road accidents. Qadir said that to minimise fatal road accidents in the region, AJK Transport Authority and traffic police must launch awareness campaigns and ban old vehicles in the region.
Compensating the loss
As per the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Ordinance 2013, Rs300,000 is paid to the heirs or representative of the deceased, while an injured passenger who has lost a hand or a leg, or received very serious facial disfigurement, may receive Rs150,000 to Rs300,000 as compensation, said Secretary Transport Authority Azad Jammu and Kashmir Abdul Hameed Kiyani. Kiyani further said that 250 passengers who died during the year 2013 in different road accident across AJK have been compensated with Rs75 million, while hundreds of applications of heirs of deceased are pending, and are in the verification process, and should be compensated within a couple of months.