Traffic police spark controversy by issuing fake tickets


Saudi Gazette report

JEDDAH – The traffic authorities in the Kingdom have triggered a new controversy by sending text messages asking many individuals across the country including bedridden patients, people who have not driven a car in their life and even the dead asking them to pay fines for alleged violation of road rules.

The Traffic Department often insists that such victims pay their fines before raising their complaints.

Al-Madina Arabic newspaper met with a number of citizens who came to complain about false violation charges filed against them by the traffic police. They demand the department pay compensations to such victims for making false charges and causing them unnecessary trouble, according to Abdul Aziz Al-Ghamdi, a journalist with Al-Madina.

Maj. Gen. Mohammed Al-Bassami, director general of traffic, said his organization was ready to accept complaints from motorists regarding wrong registration of traffic violations.

Haifa Abdul Razaq narrates her story. Her husband had a car. After his death the car remained in the garage for five months. When she came to Jeddah with her family she received a message from the Traffic Department saying she has to pay a fine for not wearing seatbelt.

“When I received the message, the car was in Riyadh and I had never used the car since the death of my husband five months earlier,” she told Al-Madina. “We approached the Traffic Department but they did not respond favorably even after understanding their mistake,” she added.

Majed Al-Kuthairy said he received a ticket for speeding and had to pay SR300 in fine. “I was sleeping at the time the violation was registered. It was a Friday and I had never come out of my house. When I complained to the Traffic Department they asked me to pay the fine first before lodging a petition.”

He said he was unable to follow the matter because of huge queues at the department. “It was difficult for me to visit the department again and again due to my work as a nurse at a hospital north of Jeddah,” he explained.

Nadir Al-Badri had another story to tell. “I was given a ticket for not preserving the number plate properly. The number plate was covered with dirt while returning from Taif as a result of floodwater. Police at a checkpoint in Jeddah issued a ticket for SR1,000.” The officers were not ready to listen to his explanation.

Fahd Mohammed had a similar complaint. He was given a ticket for wrong parking in Hamdaniya. “I had parked my car in front of a hotel properly. I did not park behind any other vehicle obstructing its movement and there was no sign board indicating parking was banned there,” he said.

“Even the photo of my vehicle taken by the police was not clear. When I approached the department to raise my objection, they asked me to take a photo of the place where I parked the car. They insisted that parking was not allowed in that area,” he added.

Eissa Al-Otaibi was another victim. He was a given a ticket for allegedly changing the car’s structure without completing official paperwork and the incident had taken place in Hofouf. He had to pay a fine of SR300. “I am a resident of Jeddah and I have never visited Hofouf and there were no structural changes made in my car,” he pointed out.

He said this shows that there was something wrong with the Bashir system that monitors traffic violations. “Why does the Traffic Department register such fake violations and ask victims to visit their office to raise objections, instead of correcting the system.”

Al-Otaibi insisted that victims should be given compensations once proved the violations registered in their names were wrong.

Salim Al-Rifae, another victim, shared the same opinion, and insisted the department pay compensation for victimizing innocent individuals.

Traffic Director Al-Bassami said citizens and residents had every right to object to the violations registered against them. However, he said the Bashir technology was very advanced and could monitor traffic violations correctly and efficiently.

The system captures a photograph of the vehicle making a violation. Traffic officers also register violations such as failure to wear seatbelts and the use of mobile phone while driving.

Asked about issues related to violations registered against individuals who do not own a car, Al-Bassami said: “I cannot confirm or deny such reports. Our doors are wide open to receive any complaints. A committee in charge looks into such complaints and if it finds the complaint was unfounded the case will be tackled in accordance with the traffic law.”