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PHA to outsource security at entrance to parks

April 01, 2016

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Security officials collect evidence at the cordoned-off site of the March 27 suicide bombing, in Lahore's Gulshan-i-Iqbal park on March 28, 2016.─AFP/File
Security officials collect evidence at the cordoned-off site of the March 27 suicide bombing, in Lahore's Gulshan-i-Iqbal park on March 28, 2016.─AFP/File

LAHORE: Keeping in view the security flaws at Gulshan-i-Iqbal, the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) has decided to outsource security at main entry gates of all public parks it operates in the metropolis.

However, the parks inside security will be conducted by PHA’s own guards, it is learnt.

Senior officials say the decision was taken after they observed that dealing with a large number of visitors especially at the time of entry to parks is really a difficult task that should be performed by trained guards of professional security firms.

“We have reached a consensus that since the entrance to the Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park becomes so crowded because of the parking area that exists near the main entry gate, situated at the road linking Dubai Chowk (Iqbal Town’s main boulevard) with Multan Road), we will keep it closed permanently. Similarly all parks main entry gates, particularly those nearby the swings and parking areas will also be closed permanently. And security at all entry gates of the parks will be outsourced,” PHA Director General Mian Shakeel told Dawn on Thursday.


Swings area in parks to be opened after clearance from LEAs


He said the internal security of parks would be dealt by PHA’s own guards. He said the Gulshan-i-Iqbal’s parking was also being shifted on the premises of the park on the design of Jilani Park.

“In Jilani Park, the parking area is situated within the park. Visitors first park their vehicles and enter the public facility comfortably after being checked by security staff. But in Gulshan-i-Iqbal, people first park vehicles outside the park and then gather nearby the gate to enter the public facility. So it creates security-related issues. That is why we are taking such steps to avoid any sort of problem in future,” he said.

Mr Shakeel said all parks except Gulshan-i-Iqbal were partially open to public.

“Jilani/Racecourse, Qarshi/Liberty, Ideal (Township) Jallo Botanical, Farakhabad (Shahdra) and other parks are partially open to the public. People can visit there for walking, jogging and other recreational activities. But the children playing area in mechanical swings section in all these parks is closed for an indefinite period. And such points will be opened subject to getting security clearance from law-enforcement agencies. However, the Gulshan Park would totally remain closed, the DG said.

To another question, the official said: “It is true that the incident occurred due to inadequate security. But the PHA in collaboration with the Punjab government has started devising a viable security plan for all public parks under a standard operating procedure.”

He said out of total 16 guards, 14 were present on duty in the Gulshan Park at the time of the explosion. “All on-duty guards are being investigated by the law-enforcement agencies that have stationed in the park since the incident,” the official added.

He said parks security would be outsourced to specialised companies of good repute.

Published in Dawn, April 1st, 2016