KARACHI: The Sindh government on Thursday assigned the police to supervise the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s command and control centre, replacing the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee (CPLC), in a major move a day after the federal government empowered the Rangers with the lead role to restore peace to the city.
Officials and sources privy to the recent development said the decision came from the chief minister, holding the Sindh home ministry portfolio also. The CM wanted the key role of the primary law-enforcement agency enhanced in the wake of the recent upsurge in violence, which also sent ripples in Islamabad’s power corridors.
“A notification in this regard has been issued by the Sindh home department,” said a source referring to the supervision task of the KMC’s command and control centre, earlier looked after by the CPLC.
“The CPLC would be there as its role has only been switched from supervisory to supportive. The city police now enjoy the powers to directly control the operational and administrative powers of the centre.”
The new arrangement, he said, would not affect the KMC’s status regarding command and control centre as the municipal body was the primary owner of the facility. He said the police supervision would also have nothing to do with the KMC’s contract with the private organisation which ran its function as an outsource body.
Envisaged by former city nazim Syed Mustafa Kamal, the then city government formally launched operations of its command and control system in June 2008, which allowed surveillance of the two signal-free corridors — Sharea Faisal to SITE and Surjani Town — with 54 cameras monitoring and recording movement of vehicles and people mainly in the city’s east and west districts.
The project was further expanded by the former city nazim. Now the newly-restored KMC operates around 150 cameras across the city for video surveillance. Though the project –– initiated with Rs110 million –– aimed at monitoring and securing civic infrastructure, including flyovers, bridges and underpasses, the city government later allowed access to the police and other agencies to help ease traffic congestion, identify criminals and prevent crime.
This allowed the CPLC’s role, which through a memorandum of understanding was assigned the supervision of the centre assisting both the police and Rangers. The officials said the police supervision would definitely replace the CPLC but the crime watchdog’s contribution would not be affected.
“The primary objective of this arrangement is to make the video surveillance more effective,” said Sharfuddin Memon, consultant to the Sindh home ministry. “The police were already enjoying the video surveillance through the KMC’s command and control centre and the fresh measure has only made its role primary in that business. The CPLC would be there to assist the police.”He said the Sindh police had already launched its own video surveillance system in Karachi, the supervision of the KMC’s project would result in better coordination and performance of the law-enforcement agency.
Meanwhile, just hours after the federal government announced empowering the Sindh Ranger with leading ‘targeted operation’ in Karachi to restore peace to the city, the chief of the paramilitary force visited the command and control centre at the Civic Centre.
“DG Rangers Major General Rizwan Akhtar reviewed the performance of the centre and discussed options to make it more effective. He also visited different parts of the city to review the law and order situation with senior officers,” said a spokesman for the Sindh Rangers.