KARACHI: In a strong message to the province’s executive and law-enforcement administration, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Thursday warned officials that he won’t tolerate any further delay in the execution of the safe city project for Karachi, which still remained a distant dream even after seven years of its launch.
The chief minister said he wanted to see the crucial security project materialised to a large extent within this the government’s term.
The warning came at a meeting of the Sindh Safe City Authority (SSCA) at CM House to discuss the progress made so far, features of its design and hurdles in its execution.
While chairing the meeting attended by top officials of the executive and law-enforcement administration, the chief minister also inquired about the mechanism to keep a check on transparency of the multi-billion project and suggested measures for swift, transparent and timely completion of the project.
Asks officials concerned to complete works before end of his government’s term
Sindh IT Minister Taimur Talpur, Special Assistant to the CM Tanzeela Qambrani, Chief Secretary Sohail Rajput, chairman P&D Hassan Naqvi, PSCM Fayaz Jatoi, LG secretary Najam Shah, DG Sindh Safe City Authority Aijaz Shaikh, MPA Nida Khuhro, MPA Mahmood Alam Jamote and other officers concerned attended the meeting.
“The safe city project would not only be restricted to the installation of sensitive closed-circuit cameras, but it would be a complete IT package empowered with artificial intelligence,” said a statement issued after the meeting quoting the chief minister as saying.
“The vision of developing a safe city system is to beef up security of citizen’s life and property in the province by employing smart technology and equipping police with modern surveillance and law enforcement capability”.
The meeting participants were informed that under the project, 10,000 cameras would be installed across the city’s ‘Red Zone’ in the first phase with a modern command and control centre and for that purpose the National Radio and Telecommunication Corporation (NRTC) “has done a great job” for the development of the Karachi-specific project.
It was informed that the CCTV system would have latest cameras. The network would have a dual (solar and electrical) power system.
The chief minister said that the safe city system installed in other cities of the country had various maintenance and operational problems.
“I want you [SSCA] to resolve all those issues at the designing stage,” the statement quoted the CM as saying.
He directed that the firms supplying the equipment for the project should be engaged under a contract to maintain and operate the system.
Commenting on the statement, which also said that the CM also directed the SSCA to prepare the PC-1 of the project and submit it to the P&D department for approval, Ms Qambrani later told Dawn that it seemed to be some confusion as such formalities had already been completed and only execution of the project was awaited.
“The meeting was actually called to review the progress made so far,” she said. “The meeting finalised different sub-committees for the project and also committees for the finalisation of the financial and service regulations of the SSCA. A third party service was also proposed to keep a check and ensure transparency in the execution of the project.”
Estimated to be completed by 2016, the safe city project has already faced a seven-year delay, which has also increased its original cost from Rs10 billion to Rs40 billion.
With serious security challenges amid an alarming rise in street crimes in Karachi, the people engaged in the project appeared optimistic that the ‘final push’ from the CM would lead to better results this time and a remarkable progress would be visible before the end of the current government’s tenure.
“There were different reasons for the delay,” said Ms Qambrani. “But this time the CM has made it clear that he wouldn’t tolerate any further delay. He wants its completion as soon as possible. So I firmly believe that by the end of the current tenure, you would see a remarkable progress”.
Published in Dawn, June 23rd, 2023