Monday September 24, 2012
Tough life for traffic wardens
PANNIRSELVAM Muthusamy has had hot noodles thrown in his face and he has been punched in the ribs. He gets sworn at almost every day. This is the life of the enforcement officer for parking and traffic offences, because his job is to issue summonses to motorists who flout parking and other traffic rules.
Though only six months in the job, Pannirselvam was already involved in three ongoing police cases of abuse by motorists. His plight was shared by many others doing the same job.
Certis Cisco, Pannirselvam’s employer, told The Sunday Times that the number of cases where members of the public have abused traffic wardens physically or verbally has been creeping up. This was aside from almost routine encounters, when motorists get angry when issued a summons.
Traffic wardens said that some drivers would crush the summons, or turn on their vehicles’ windscreen wipers to get rid of it, or hurl it back at the officers.
There were 19 police reports filed by traffic wardens last year and six were still under investigation.
This year, 22 reports had been made so far and 15 cases were under investigation.
One motorist was fined and another was given a stern warning last year as a result of the complaints, while only one was fined this year.
In an especially nasty incident earlier this month, Pannirselvam, 47, said a lorry driver who had just been issued a summons for illegal parking in Upper Serangoon Road walked up to him calmly and shoved a packet of piping hot fried noodles at his face.
“I did not see that coming because the driver was not acting aggressively,” he said.
But that was not all. The driver then began punching him on his face and body. He stopped only when the electronic hand-held terminal, used for recording and printing out summonses, fell from Pannirselvam’s hands.
“People at the nearby coffee shop who saw what was happening did not help,” he said. “Instead, they clapped.”
He suffered multiple bruises and cuts to his nose and mouth and was given 19 days of medical leave. He had to go to the hospital three times because of pain in his ribs. He still has some discomfort while walking. The case was under police investigations.
Female enforcement officers were not spared such abuse either. Last year, four women made police reports. This year so far, there had already been six such police reports filed. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network