RIYADH – The traffic authorities cannot change the current practice of doubling of traffic fines because it is not a legislative body, said Major General Sulaiman Al-Ajlan, the Director General for Traffic Administration.
“The traffic body enforces rules issued by legislative bodies. We only execute the laws,” said Al-Ajlan.
He also revealed that there had been over two million accidents in the Kingdom over the past five years with a number of dead and injured.
His remarks are in connection with the current controversy in the Kingdom over the doubling of traffic fines, with some scholars saying it is a form of usury and therefore not allowed, while others say that it is simply an increase in the penalty for violations.
Al-Ajlan made the remarks at the launch of the Comprehensive Program for Security Safety “Salmati” which took place Saturday at the Public Security Headquarters in Riyadh.
Saudi Gazette reported in February this year that Dr. Abdul Mohsen Al-Obaikan, the adviser at the Royal Court did not think the practice is usury. This was in contrast to the Kingdom’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Aal Al-Sheikh who ruled that the doubling of fines for traffic violations is usury.
Also quoted in February was Dr. Saleh Al-Sadlan, Professor of Islamic Jurisprudence “Fiqh” in the Postgraduate Studies Department at Imam Muhammad Islamic University in Riyadh, who agreed with Al-Obaikan, and said that the doubling of traffic fines is not considered usury under Islamic law.
Al-Obaikan, however, has appealed to the higher authorities to review these fees which he argues have become a burden for poor people.
Meanwhile, Al-Ajlan said there were two million accidents in the Kingdom over the past five years. Over this period 30,000 people were killed and 170,000 injured.
He said that more than 230 officers and 3,000 non-commissioned officers are taking part in the first phase of the “Salmati” program and will be deployed in different parts of the capital city.
The objective of the program is to create awareness about a new monitoring system called “Sahir”, which will check whether drivers are speeding or passing incorrectly.
Brigadier Muhammad Al-Maroul, Director of Public Relations at the traffic authority, said that field inspections have proven to be the most effective way to monitor traffic in the Kingdom. He said that there is a “poor” traffic culture in the Kingdom that is being increasingly copied by expatriate drivers. – Okaz/SG