ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the Panah Gah (shelter) for homeless women and men in Tarlai on Wednesday.
Mr Khan was accompanied by two parliamentarians and arrived at the shelter in a private vehicle.
The capital administration was informed of his visit, due to which Chief Commissioner Amer Ali Ahmed also reached the shelter.
Mr Khan directed the administration to launch a free shuttle service for labourers, so they can go to their places of work in the morning and return to the shelter in the evening.
Shelters in Tarlai and the Sabzi Mandi in I-11 were renovated in 20 days and will be made functional today (Thursday).
The Tarlai building can house around 150 men and 50 women. The Sabzi Mandi shelter can house around 100 men.
An official from the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration who asked not to be named said that 70 people were allowed to stay at the Sabzi Mandi shelter on Wednesday, and around 300 people were provided free meals. People will be allowed to stay at the Tarlai shelter from Thursday.
The Red Crescent has also given assurances that it will depute doctors at both shelters.
“After the government announced that shelters would be provided to homeless people, an abandoned building was selected in the Tarlai area for this purpose. The building was used as a store and items belonging to sitting and former ICT administration officers were placed there. It was decided to vacate the building, which is in good condition, to use it as a Panah Gah,” the official said.
He added: “The building has two halls in which more than 100 people can be housed. There is one dining hall and there are five rooms on the first floor. There is another wing in the building in which women will be housed. Moreover, there are separate rooms for staff and officers, due to which staff will stay there.”
The many labourers and others who visit Tarlai every day to find work will be able to find free shelter there, he said.
“The other building was selected in Sabzi Mandi, as a large number of labourers work there and don’t have shelter.”
The official said the chief commissioner was supervising the renovation of both buildings. Security cameras were fixed there, and guards and staff were appointed as well, he said.
There was a previously a shelter in G-7, but people lived there for years and no one was able to get rooms vacated from them.
In response to a question, the official said such shelters cannot be run by government departments, and instead it has been decided to involve philanthropists. Meals on Wednesday were provided by a philanthropist, he said.
Published in Dawn, December 27th, 2018