LAHORE: Frequent crashing of the app developed for the distribution of the free flour is one of the causes of the mismanagement, resulting in the chaos at the free flour centres set up for Ramazan that are bringing a bad name for the government.

A senior official associated with the distribution of free flour tells Dawn that the Free Flour Distribution App developed by the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) is crashing frequently, halting the whole system.

The app remained down for two-and-a-half hours on Monday when the government decided to give away 20kg instead of 10kg flour to the people, the official says. Requesting not to be named, he says, the app crashed for two hours again on Tuesday morning. He says that sometimes the server also collapses to compound the problem while the people tired of standing in long queues for hours also get impatient and indulge in snatching each other’s share of flour.

The app is an important part of the distribution of flour. Those desiring to get free flour are required to register themselves with the Benazir Income Support Programme. To know one’s eligibility, they have to text the CNIC number to 8070 and visit the centre with the original CNIC. The cards are scanned by the officials with the app before taking the slip or token to collect the flour from the truck.

Lahore Deputy Commissioner Rafia Haider says those taking a chance to get extra supplies try to create a scene when they are identified at the time of scanning of their CNICs by the app. She says the district administration is increasing the number of distribution points in proportion to the rush of people in an area while deployment of police is also being enhanced to maintain order and check bag snatching incidents.

Meanwhile, a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi decided to open flour distribution points earlier. It was decided the centres would now open at 6am, while ministers and secretaries of various departments were assigned districts to monitor the flour delivery process.

WHEAT PRICE: Wheat market crashed in Punjab as the government announced increasing the free flour quota.

Market sources say that the price of wheat came down by Rs1,200 from Rs5,400 to Rs4,200 per 40kg with the announcement of increase of free flour supplies in Punjab.

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2023

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