SIX YEARS after the Mumbai Police’s Traffic Department introduced yellow wheel clamps to block vehicles parked illegally, officers admit the devices have turned into a headache. Several streets, especially in the western suburbs, are congested with cars clamped not by the police, but by motorists themselves, who manage to procure unauthorised clamps and use them to “secure” parking spots on public roads.
A senior officer said in the absence of a comprehensive policy on parking, there is “gross misuse” of the German-designed clamps. To put an end to the problem, the traffic department has now decided to standardise its clamps.
“We do not know the manufacturers of these illegal clamps and how they are being circulated. The maximum misuse is by second-hand car showrooms, which clamp vehicles on display that are parked on streets. By using the device, they manage to fool people and even officials, who think the vehicles are under the ambit of the traffic police,” said a police officer.
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Traffic Department officers said the wheel clamps were originally meant to lock vehicles that obstructed vehicular or pedestrian movement on congested roads and in no-parking zones.
However, one IPS officer said shopkeepers even allow patrons to park illegally outside their stores, by clamping the cars.
“This is stage management and a very common trend that has come to our notice, as parking in Mumbai is at a premium. Such cars could easily be towed when wrongfully parked, but when they are clamped, even traffic officials on rounds cannot take action,” admitted the officer.
To tackle the problem, the Mumbai Traffic Police will soon issue a notice to standardise the wheel clamps they use. Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Milind Bharambe said, “In a fortnight, the traffic police will take charge of the matter and standardise the wheel clamps used for wrongly parked vehicles.”
This move includes getting wheel clamps with a Mumbai Traffic Police logo and a serial number.
“This will allow us to separate the unauthorised clamps from the police’s clamps. There can’t be any duplication of the serial numbers. Only those that are authentic will remain on the streets, the rest will be seized,” the officer said.
Alleging that even policemen misuse the clamps, one taxi driver said he had his car clamped by two “non-traffic” policemen. “I was at the police station until 5 pm and the officers refused to let me go with just a fine for wrong parking. I was asked to pay a bribe of Rs 5,000,” alleged the taxi driver.