How can we go to the public with these worn out vehicles,” asked a senior police officer from the Traffic Department, addressing a recent convention of the Kerala Police Officers’ Association in Kozhikode.

He echoed the dilemma of the traffic police in the city, regularly on patrol on “exhausted” vehicles. “Our credibility will be at stake if we continue enforcement with these vehicles,” the officer said. The poor condition of patrol vehicles is not new to the Police Department. Every time the department gets a new vehicle, it goes to a senior officer’s station where it spends its salad days. Once the sheen is lost, it slowly descends the ladder and is dumped in local stations. At present, there are five ‘vintage’ vehicles with the city traffic unit.

“Of the five jeeps allotted for patrol, three are in a piteous condition. These have been on road for more than 10 years,” an Additional Sub-Inspector with the Traffic Police Department said. Before being allotted to the traffic police wing, these vehicles were in use at several other police stations in the city limits, he said.

As per a standing instruction, the vehicles cannot be overhauled in private garages, which remains a major hurdle in quality service of police vehicles. Usually, the unfit vehicle is taken to a workshop under the Armed Reserve Camp and brought back after a temporary revamp. If the cost of repairs is above Rs.50,000, the vehicle is usually condemned with permission from the top officials. According to traffic sources, three patrol vehicles now in use in the city are in this category. All the six traffic sectors (Eranhipalam, Vengeri, Medical College, Ramanattukara, Palayam and new Bus Stand) use these vehicles. They say the remaining two will join this category soon if not properly repaired. The situation is same in the case of the three patrol bikes. Police sources said only one bike was now in use.

The others suffer frequent breakdowns. Assistant Commissioner of Traffic Police (North) M.C. Devassia said the government had approved a proposal to sanction new vehicles for the city traffic police. “ We may get five new vehicles for the city soon, which will replace the old ones,” he told The Hindu.

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