Drive to fine people without masks not yielding positive results in Karachi

Published November 25, 2020
A government decision to impose a Rs500 fine for not wearing a face mask at public places has failed to make any impact. — AFP/File
A government decision to impose a Rs500 fine for not wearing a face mask at public places has failed to make any impact. — AFP/File

KARACHI: A government decision to impose a Rs500 fine for not wearing a face mask at public places has failed to make any impact as in more than two weeks officials of the municipal and district administration have managed to penalise only 54 people for violating the notified standard operating procedures (SOPs), forcing them to conclude that the move is impracticable and almost impossible to fetch the desired results.

In view of a surge in Covid-19 cases during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, the National Command Operation Centre (NCOC) earlier this month had issued new guidelines banning indoor marriages, fixing a fine for not wearing masks and allowing “work from home” for 50 per cent staff of public and private institutions.

Authorities have imposed fines on only 54 people across Karachi over two-week period

Later, Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Ali Shallwani directed the administration to take strict action against those found not wearing mask at public places and impose a Rs500 fine on them for violating the SOPs.

The decision of imposing such a hefty fine that too in Karachi alone came as a surprise for many. However, it has failed to work as a deterrence for the people who are largely ignoring the advice of health experts and officials.

Figures showed that the local administration has itself not been able to make wearing of masks at public places compulsory.

“Only 54 people across Karachi were fined following the launch of the campaign,” said an official at the commissioner office. “Among those 54, 26 were fined in district Central, 15 in Malir and 13 in South.”

He said that the NCOC had asked the provinces to implement its new guidelines under their own modus operandi. Keeping in view the alarming situation of Covid-19 in the province, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had called for strict implementation of SOPs in all business, social, religious, educational and other institutions and in case of non-compliance directed the authorities concerned to take strict action.

The same evening, he said, the commissioner office had announced imposing Rs500 fine for not wearing masks. The fines were imposed the very next day in district Central and people without masks were spotted by random mobile teams of the district administrations and penalised, he added.

“But the initiative proved short-lived,” he said. “This is not a crime and one can only request or convince someone verbally to follow the SOPs or wear masks. We can ask businesses to follow timings, we can issue directives to restaurants or shopping centres to allow restricted number of people at their facilities but we can’t ask everyone to wear mask. The people need to show some responsibility themselves. In district West there was almost a scuffle between officials of district administration and some people when they asked them to wear mask or pay fine. Such situations were reported from almost all districts.”

He said that the recovery rate in the province was encouraging but the new spike in cases was worrisome and needed immediate measures to contain the virus.

The commissioner had already issued directives to the deputy commissioners to ensure proper and strict implementation of SOPs such as wearing masks, observing social distancing, avoiding handshake and crowds, he added.

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2020

Opinion

Digital finance
17 Jan 2021

Digital finance

Raast offers opportunities for inclusion, but is not without risk.
Broadsheetgate
17 Jan 2021

Broadsheetgate

The competence that has underlined NAB and its actions has cost us dearly now and even in 2008.
Debate on ordinances
17 Jan 2021

Debate on ordinances

The government’s line of thinking indicates a belief in the principle of brute majority.
America in decline?
Updated 16 Jan 2021

America in decline?

In spite of the ‘gates’ that rocked the US, democracy stood firm.

Editorial

17 Jan 2021

Foreign funding case

THE Election Commission of Pakistan has summoned both the PML-N and PPP on Monday in connection with the foreign...
17 Jan 2021

Vaccine procurement

ALL eyes are on the government as it pledges to roll out the Covid-19 vaccination programme to about 80m citizens by...
17 Jan 2021

Makli ‘renovation’

THERE are fears that the recently conducted ‘renovation’ work carried out at the Makli necropolis may rob the...
16 Jan 2021

Gas liberalisation

AFTER drawing much criticism from both consumers and the opposition over its mismanagement of the energy sector that...
16 Jan 2021

Osama Satti inquiry

THE findings of the judicial inquiry into the Jan 2 killing of 21-year-old Osama Satti in Islamabad merely confirms...
Updated 16 Jan 2021

British MP on IHK

DESPITE sustained efforts by New Delhi’s rulers to remove India-held Kashmir from the global discourse, people of...