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Traffic wardens become punching bags as abuse on the rise

Published on Sep 23, 2012 12:34 PM
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Mr Krishna Moorthi Kannie, 50, and Ms Amuthavathi Nagayah, 31, patrolling and issuing summonses for traffic violations. Certis Cisco officers say some unhappy drivers have crushed the summons, or thrown it back at the wardens. But that does not mean they do not have to pay the penalty. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Mr 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, Mr Pannirselvam is already involved in three ongoing police cases of abuse by motorists. His plight is shared by many others doing the same job.

Certis Cisco, Mr 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 is 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.

 
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Background story

A lorry driver, who had just been issued a summons for illegal parking, calmly walks up to the traffic warden and shoves a packet of piping hot fried noodles at his face. Then, he begins punching him on his face and body.

"People at the nearby coffee shop who saw what was happening did not help. Instead, they clapped."

MR PANNIRSELVAM MUTHUSAMY, a traffic warden


 

MYTHS ABOUT TRAFFIC WARDENS... AND SUMMONSES

1 Traffic wardens receive a commission for summonses issued

Certis Cisco said this is not true. Traffic wardens are not required to meet a quota and are not paid according to the number of summonses they issue while on duty.

2 They can void summonses after they have been issued

The traffic or parking offence is recorded once the offence and vehicle details are keyed into the electronic hand-held device. That is why traffic wardens are unable to void the summons.

3 You can escape summonses if you throw away the notice or refuse to accept it

The Sunday Times was told by traffic wardens that some drivers would crush the summonses, try to use their vehicles' windscreen wipers to get rid of them or hurl it back at the traffic wardens.

But that does not mean the motorist will not be taken to task for the offence. An official letter detailing the offence and penalty will still be mailed to the vehicle owner.

Bryna Sim