PESHAWAR -- Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) authorities recently approved a plan to install a state-of-the-art vehicle tracking and monitoring system. They are awaiting clearance from government lawyers before moving ahead.
They intend to fight theft and terrorism by doing so.
"In the preliminary stage, the ... system will be installed in Peshawar as a pilot project," Syed Qasim Ali Shah, naib nazim (deputy mayor) of the city, told Pakistan Forward. "It will be replicated in other KP cities."
No firm dates are available yet, but authorities will act as soon as they receive the expected legal permission.
"All vehicles -- including cars, motorbikes, three-wheelers and buses -- will be brought under a round-the-clock monitoring system," he told Pakistan Forward.
Workers will install terminals throughout the city to read an electronic tag affixed to every vehicle, he said.
The Peshawar District government intends to implement the plan with the KP Traffic Police and KP Excise and Taxation Department.
Motivated by fight against terrorism
"The system will help to completely terminate the use of motorcycles in targeted killings and incidents of terrorism," Qasim said, referring to the common practice of drive-by shootings.
KP authorities envisioned the system after terrorists killed more than 140 children and teachers at Army Public School in Peshawar, he said.
KP officials approved the plan during a June 3 meeting that Qasim chaired.
"We were in constant discussion ... on how to prevent the recurrence of such a gruesome incident," he said. "During conversations a private firm, ENTORI Database System Designer, floated the idea."
The project is a public-private partnership and the company will bear the cost of implementing the project, he said.
ENTORI plans to recoup its costs by charging an annual fee to motorists, he added.
The district government has asked its legal section to review the plan, Qasim said.
If the legal department gives its approval, workers will install the system in Peshawar, Qasim said.
All vehicle owners required to register
The Peshawar-based firm will install 122 terminals in Peshawar to monitor vehicle movements, Asim Hayat, a consultant at ENTORI, told Pakistan Forward.
Authorities will ask all Peshawar vehicle owners to register with the system by calling the ENTORI helpline, he said.
Should the plan take effect, Peshawar motorists will have to affix a tag to their vehicles.
Once the motorists install the tags, monitoring of vehicles will begin.
The tags will make it easy to find a stolen car or motorcycle throughout the city, Asim said.
"It will take about 120 days to install the system in Peshawar," he said.
Asim expressed hope that Peshawar District's legal department would give the green light by late July or early August.
Ensuring security for citizens
The entire Peshawar project will cost about Rs. 100m to 120m (US $1m to $1.2m), Ali Haider, an official from Town III-Peshawar District, told Pakistan Forward. He was one of the participants at the June 3 meeting where officials preliminarily approved the plan.
"This is an ... almost cost-free system ensuring full security for citizens," he told Pakistan Forward.
To recover its costs, ENTORI will charge motorists Rs. 200 (US $2) per vehicle per year, he said.
The project will create about 1,500 jobs for youth, he added.
"It's the first time in Pakistan that a whole city will be brought under a 24-hour monitoring system," he said.
Project planners intend to give traffic police and other officers special tablet computers for checking vehicles' details on the spot.
Also, according to the plan, untagged cars entering Peshawar will undergo thorough scrutiny at check-points around Peshawar.
Observers are pleased
Knowledgeable observers welcome the likely new plan.
"Such initiatives are timely," Peshawar journalist and security analyst Shamim Shahid told Pakistan Forward. "It is important to have a modern security system to protect the public."
To counter terrorists' misuse of high tech, society and security forces need to deploy modern systems of their own, he said. Shamim expressed optimism about the planned system's ability to reduce the use of vehicles for crimes.