KARACHI: With the country taking administrative and security measures to deal with security challenges following the Peshawar tragedy, the Karachi city administration has decided to launch a civil defence training programme for schoolchildren to prepare them to cope with sudden disasters and assist security forces in the event of a feared terrorist attack, it emerged on Thursday.
The decision was taken at a recent meeting held at the office of the commissioner of Karachi division in which participants exchanged views about preparedness for disaster and post-disaster situations.
The meeting was informed that the director of rescue 1299 had established liaison with the additional director of Civil Defence and the director of School Education Karachi with regard to imparting civil defence training in government schools.
“The training will be started very soon,” it was stated at the meeting, according to the minutes of the meeting reviewed by Dawn.
Besides representatives of the city administration and civil defence, the meeting was attended by officials of schools, the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) and the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA).
A representative of PIA said that rescue and civil defence training was also being imparted to the Airport Security Force, Civil Aviation Authority and other employees of Karachi airport.
A DHA representative said the DHA had taken measures to create awareness in its schools and added that the DHA director of school education was already working on the proposal.
A representative of the All Private Schools Management Association told the meeting that they were planning to hold a seminar on the subject soon.
Another representative of PIA proposed developing a “community emergency plan” on the pattern of western countries and suggested that the deputy commissioners should develop such a plan in their districts.
The PIA official said that such a plan also existed in European countries and the US and promised to provide coordination and assistance to materialise the proposal.
The meeting was informed that deputy commissioners had also held a meeting with Civil Defence to raise a ‘voluntary force’ to meet any eventuality in future.
It was decided that additional commissioner-I Karachi would coordinate and utilise the services being offered by PIA to this effect.
It was also proposed at the meeting that all leading TV channels would be requested to telecast dramas during their prime time aimed at creating awareness of disaster management. Besides, K-Electric and SSGC would be asked to print messages on utility bills to create awareness among the public.
The meeting was informed that the traffic police in coordination with PIA were expected to launch the training programme for traffic police.
A representative of the SBCA claimed at the meeting that the “building plans are approved after satisfaction that the builder has a seismic plan for their buildings and proper firefighting equipment has been fixed.”
As far as fire safety was concerned, it was revealed by an electric inspector to the disappointment of the participants that the authorities had again stopped the practice of inspection and checking industrial and commercial establishments. A letter had been written to the secretary of provincial energy department as to why the inspection of factories had been withheld, he said.
In order to meet any eventuality at beaches, the meeting was informed the DHA would fix watchtowers in their area while Karachi Municipal Corporation had accepted an offer by the Citizens Council for Human Rights to install watchtowers in beach area.
It was stated that the Karachi administration had also written a letter to the director general of the National Institute of Oceanography regarding their assessment of different beach areas with regard to their vulnerability in case of tsunami. Additional deputy commissioners of West, Malir and Korangi informed the meeting that they would start awareness messages through mosques.
Published in Dawn, December 26th, 2014