ISLAMABAD, Nov 30: The capital’s civic agency loses 20 manhole covers every day – a setback of Rs60,000 – and it has no plan to plug the theft, Dawn has learnt reliably.

A municipal administration inspector admitted that most sewer and drain covers were missing from the main avenues of the capital, and added: “They are stolen by thieves during the night, and sold in the scrap market according to their weight.”He added that while the drain covers are sealed with cement, thieves are able to break the cement seal in two days’ time.

“There are gangs of young and old thieves, mostly from the squatter settlements of the capital,” he said, “and they are equipped with hammers and iron cutters to dismantle the covers.”

Needless to say the open manholes endanger pedestrians and vehicles owners alike.

“Once my car got stuck in an open drain, and I had to seek help from the Islamabad Traffic Police, who brought their car lifting machine,” recounted Dr Mashood Nasir, a resident of sector G-9.

In fact, almost half of the manhole covers from Peshawar More road (Najam Square) in sector G-9 are missing on the service road.

“Open manholes are dangerous, and should be covered immediately,” he demanded.

Commenting over the financial loss faced by the authority, a financial wing official said: “A drain cover made with iron rods costs the authority Rs3,000. Our daily loss is around Rs60,000, while the per month loss crosses over Rs148,000.”

He put the blame on poor monitoring and neglect by the administration department and claimed that no one had ever been charged or arrested for the theft.

When Dawn contacted a legal wing official on the matter, he seconded this assertion.

“The CDA has never lodged any complaint with any police station about the theft of manhole covers in different sectors of the city. Routine theft is not an issue for the CDA which is facing a financial crunch.”

According to data shared by an official, around 7,000 manholes in the city have covers.

“Out of these, 3,000 manhole covers are managed by the Roads Division of the CDA,” the spokesman for the authority Ramzan Sajid told Dawn.

He insisted that the authority’s civic management wing was in the process of limiting the theft of manhole covers but “we can’t keep an eye on every manhole cover every day.”

Mr Sajid claimed that the authority would increase night surveillance of its supervisors and inspectors of the civic management wing to check the theft.

“In the coming days, we will be opting for registration of theft cases with the police in every sector,” he added.

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