KARACHI: Expressing his grave concerns over the law and order situation along all highways in Sindh having turned extremely dangerous due to dacoit gangs’ criminal activities, Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) Acting President Altaf A. Ghaffar has appealed to Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and the provincial police chief to launch a ‘grand and decisive’ operation against the gangs, which have destroyed peace in the province.

In a statement issued here on Monday, the KCCI leader stres­sed that the operation against the outlaws must be carried out by the law enforcing agencies of Sindh and Punjab jointly in an aggressive manner. “A special plan of action must be devised to permanently cleanse the katcha area of crime,” he said, observing that the upper region of the province continued to serve as safe haven for the outlaws.

He was of the view that an ‘abnormal surge’ in criminal activities had been witnessed and the law and order situation, particularly on the highways in Sindh, had worsened to such an extent that safe travel after sunset had become almost impossible.

Mr Ghaffar pointed out that gangsters took positions to intercept and loot commuters riding public and private vehicles, as well as oil tankers and container-mounted trailers laden with locally manufactured and imported goods, destined for upcountry, especially in night hours.

Says business community faces huge losses, safe travel on highways in night hours almost impossible

According to the KCCI leader, it is due to the deteriorating lawlessness in Sindh that truckers are now refusing to take shipments to the upcountry areas because of the high risk factor. If someone of them even agrees, he demands exorbitantly high fare with the condition to ply his vehicle on highways in Sindh only during the daytime. This ultimately delays delivery of goods and causes huge losses to Karachi-based businessmen, industrialists and traders.

He said that in such a situation, the city businessmen had constantly been approaching the KCCI for assistance. The outlaws had been fearlessly and mercilessly committing crimes at locations of their choice on highways but the law enforcing agencies seemed totally helpless, he said.

The acting KCCI chief observed that since the criminal activities had risen manifold, the vehicular traffic on highways in night hours remained off the road.

Gravity of the situation could be gauged from the fact that within a period of just two months, dozens of businessmen and truckers had been kidnapped while travelling along the highways. Usually the victims were set free either after ransom was paid or in lieu of the goods.

There was a time when the gangs had confined themselves to the katcha (riverine) areas but now they had been operating on highways and challenging writ of the state through video messages being uploaded on the social media, he added.

The KCCI acting president cautioned that if this most disturbing issue remained unresolved, it would further hamper economic activities in the province. Disruption in the supply chain and a sharp rise in transportation cost caused by the situation had already become a headache for the industry, he noted.

It is high time that the chief minister and IGP act to rid citizens of the persisting menace and ensure their safety and security, he stressed.

Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2024

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