By Anthony Rozario and Sumedha Grover
A week after the Maharashtra Transport Department banned the iconic sign ‘Horn OK Please’ from being painted on trucks and lorries, a large section of truck owners are clueless about the diktat.
Although the circular has reached the Office of the Regional Transport Officer (RTO) in Pune, truck associations in the city say they have not received any official order from the local transport department. There are about 24,000 trucks and lorries which are registered with the Pune RTO. The signage with a nationwide presence, ‘Horn OK Please’, is usually stenciled on the rear of trucks and lorries.
Arguing that the signage encourages unnecessary honking, the Maharashtra Transport Commissioner Mahesh Zagade on April 30 issued a notice for the state-wide ban. “We received the circular from the Maharashtra Transport Commissioner’s office on April 30 stating that ‘Horn OK Please’ violates the Maharashtra Motor Vehicle Act, 1989,” said Jintendra Patil, Regional Transport Officer, Pune. Patil says that his department has already informed the officials concerned, including the local police and its flying squads, to take action.
Although the diktat is issued by the Maharashtra transport department, the ban also applies to trucks from other states entering the state border. “Those violating the ban will be fined, including trucks from other states that may ply in the state.” he added.
However, the sudden move to ban an iconic signage and “weak reasoning” behind the move has invited the ire of truck owners who have questioned the underlying logic of the latest in a series of bans imposed by the incumbent BJP government in the state.
“The transport commissioner has imposed the ban without creating awareness among truck owners. Now, the traffic police will start fining drivers who may be unaware of the ban and still have the ‘Horn OK Please’ sign on their trucks,” said Dayanand Nadkar, secretary, Maharashtra Truck Owners’ Association. He further criticised the administration regarding its haphazard implementation of the ban.
“Although the ban does not directly affect our business, it seems to raise some serious questions on honking as a measure of safe driving. How else are drivers supposed to alert other vehicles on the road? This move has amused me,” he added.
Shashikant Dombe, executive president of Pune Mal Wahatukdar Sanghtna, which has 600 truck owners as members, believes the ban is “useless” and terms the reasoning applied by the government as “faulty”.
“Hospitals and schools barely get affected by the signage. Signs saying no horns are put up near these institutions and a sign behind trucks won’t encourage people to start honking,” he said.
Nande Lagde, a truck driver, says he isn’t aware of the ban and believes that removal of the sign won’t deter people from honking. “They haven’t informed us properly. It seems to be another way to extort money from us,” he remarked.
Similarly, painters, who too were unaware of the new rule, said their business won’t be hit by the ban. “If not this then we’ll find something else to paint. Anyway, we’ve moved on to reflective artwork from the traditional hand-painted truck art,” said Mehboob, who owns a painting workshop in Katraj.