Capital admin collecting details of 33,000 families living below poverty line to provide edibles

Updated April 01, 2020

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A man carrying a sack of onions walks under a ‘Disinfection Walk-through Gate’ installed at Islamabad’s Fruit and Vegetable Market in I-11. The initiative is part of the ICT administration endeavour to contain the spread of coronavirus. — Photo by Mohammad Asim
A man carrying a sack of onions walks under a ‘Disinfection Walk-through Gate’ installed at Islamabad’s Fruit and Vegetable Market in I-11. The initiative is part of the ICT administration endeavour to contain the spread of coronavirus. — Photo by Mohammad Asim

ISLAMABAD: The capital administration is collecting details of around 33,000 families living below the poverty line and relying on daily-wage work in order to make arrangements for them to obtain edible goods during the lockdown.

Officials in the capital administration have said that only 1,000 families have been provided free edible products in the last couple of days, and the rest are still waiting.

Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Hamza Shafqaat confirmed that 1,000 families have been provided items with assistance from donations and NGOs. He told Dawn these families were ones that urgently required edibles.

DC announces home delivery service for groceries through 24 cash and carry stores, save marts

He said that the administration is collecting details of families living below the poverty line and living off daily wages, in order to make arrangements for them to obtain edibles during the lockdown. There are more than 33,000 such families living in the capital, he said.

Mr Shafqaat said the details will most likely be collected within a week, and the families will be given a stipend according to their needs so they can buy goods. The stipend will come from a government package.

Around 4,000 to 5,000 people are also receiving cooked meals from Panahgahs, Dastar Khawans and Saylani, he added.

In a press conference at his office, Mr Shafqaat also announced a free home delivery service for grocery items, in an effort to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Mr Shafqaat said the service will deliver grocery and green grocery items through cash and carry stores and save marts; initially, 24 such establishments have been designated in this regard.

These stores are located in Melody Market G-6, I-8, G-9, Bhara Kahu, Khanna Pul, Ghori Town, I-10 Markaz, Aabpara Market, G-13, Park Road, PWD, DHA Phase II, Soan Garden, Bahria Phase IV, Tarnol, Taramri Chowk and Rawat. People will be able to order deliveries over the phone.

He said the products will be sold at wholesale rates. Arrangements have been made with assistance from traders, who have also arranged manpower for the delivery service. Efforts are ongoing to provide the service in all 50 union councils in the capital.

Mr Shafqaat said the measure has been taken in view of the Covid-19 outbreak, in order to limit the spread. With edible items being provided at residents’ doorsteps, they will not need to go outside and put their lives and the lives of their families, at risk.

The administration is operating three ‘ration centres’ in the capital as well, where underprivileged citizens can obtain edible products for free, Mr Shafqaat said, and asked people to donate so that this can continue.

He also asked people to inform the police or seek their protection while distributing donations and khairaat, saying the act can lead people to gather in large numbers which may result in the spread of Covid-19.

He said a few incidents have also been reported about attacks and thefts during such activities.

Online suppliers face distribution issues as orders rise

The closure of weekly markets has led to a significant increase in online orders for fruits and vegetables, which has caused distribution problems for the two suppliers working with the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration.

With the fifth weekly marketshut down in the capital on Tuesday, many residents were forced to buy daily use items, particularly produce, at significantly higher prices from retailers.

Others opted to buy fruits and vegetables online from Fowrry and Sabzi Mandi Online, the two main supplies affiliated with the ICT’s Durust Daam application.

“The problem is that there are strict restrictions on movement at the same time that retailers have increased prices in Rawalpindi and Islamabad,” Hassan Ali, who lives in the capital, said.

The administration launched Durust Daam in October 2019 so citizens could access the official price list for essential items. Two suppliers were later added to the system to deliver fruits and vegetables to residents at cheaper prices and without any delivery charges.

But, Fowrry CEO Adeel Hasan said, the current situation has created a new challenge for them.

“While the daily orders jumped to more than 200 daily, which used to be less than 70 per day up till last month, the distribution network has been shattered,” he said.

Most riders were unable to work, he said, but the company has been in touch with a number of ride-sharing service drivers and drivers working for courier companies who are not currently at their jobs.

To make matters worse, the uninterrupted rainfall over the last few days has made it difficult for delivery workers, who ride motorcycles, to meet deadlines.

Published in Dawn, April 1st, 2020