It is no secret that being a driver in UB is not an easy experience. The traffic and the culture of rushed driving, coupled with the loose compliance with traffic laws, all make it a stressful experience. Now, the resurgence of towing and the checks being conducted by the police just add to the ever-growing list of things drivers have to worry about.
SHOOTING FISH IN A BARREL
Just recently, it seemed like towing had gone out of style and booting tires was the new method for dealing with parking violations. After a few months, the tire boot method went as quickly as it came, primarily due to its ineffectiveness and the complaints that came with it. Now that booting tires is a thing of the past, towing companies have come back with a punch. They are towing cars at an alarming rate, almost as if to make up for the lost time.
An investigative report done by Ugluunii Sonin observed towing companies operating near Bagshiin Deed, a central area of the city. In that area are several universities, as well as a cluster of both private and public hospitals. The report suggested that towing companies tend to target hospitals and areas that are known to not have adequate parking. The towing companies have the right to tow any vehicle that they feel is obstructing traffic. According to the article, they define that term very liberally and have hauled away many vehicles that were not blocking the road or any cars. They are being criticized for shooting fish in a barrel, or preying on easy targets such as people visiting hospitals.
It is important to note that these towing companies are private. Taking this into account brightens the picture and makes it a bit clearer. Since their primary objective is to make a profit, it is easy to understand that they would try to tow as many vehicles as possible, even if some are not actually violating any laws. A lack of regulation combined with companies looking to profit leads to drivers getting the short end of the stick.
Since the towing companies are contracted by the government, they do have procedures they have to follow. The procedure states that before a vehicle is towed, tow trucks must spend five to ten minutes announcing on their loudspeakers that they are about to tow a vehicle. Then, if the driver does not arrive within five to ten minutes, they must take pictures of the interior and exterior of the vehicle before towing. The report by Ugluunii Sonin stated that towing companies haul an average of 90 cars a day, 150 on busy days. It is clear then, that the proper procedure for towing is rarely followed. Even in light of all this information, it is my personal belief that towing companies are necessary. UB already has enough traffic without people leaving their cars clogging up roads. Towing is not the problem; how they do it is the problem. The root of the problem is the lack of regulation of these businesses. We have seen time and time again that if a business that is for profit is left unregulated, there is no telling what they will do to increase their profit margin. It is no different with drivers; if left unregulated, we have seen that they will park their cars anywhere.
THE FOUR BILLION MNT OPPRESSION
Starting on August 29, police began performing routine checks on random cars to see if they are up to standard. The standards include the overall state of the car, headlights, and even its appearance. Going even further, they have started to check for fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and warning triangles. The random checks are supposedly going to continue until September 30.
Between August 29 and September 30, police officers have the right to stop any vehicle and conduct checks. Since the checks have started, the number of fines issued has increased dramatically. This has led to many people becoming suspicious that these random checks are not an attempt to improve the standards of vehicles, but rather a method of raising more money for the state budget. It is hard to deny these claims outright. The way the checks were announced and are now being executed has rightfully raised suspicion. The announcements of the checks was especially sudden. Drivers were not given advanced notice and there is no precedent for these types of inspections.
This move is being called “The four billion MNT oppression”, and not just by anybody: Member of Parliament T.Ayursaikhan was credited with coining the term during a press conference. People argue that if the goal of these inspections was to improve the standards of vehicles, the police would not have started handing out fines as soon as the decision to conduct the inspections was made. It is hard to argue with that train of thought.
It is entirely possible that the government is trying to kill two birds with one stone: enforcing vehicle standards while also raising capital for the state budget. It is no secret that the bonds Mongolia has issued will need to be paid off starting in 2017. It is apparent that the government is working to raise capital to help Mongolia pay off the debts it has incurred and for the bonds it has issued. However, there are better ways to raise capital than to funnel money from unsuspecting drivers.