By: Irfan Aligi
KARACHI: Provincial and city governments have failed to install a digital surveillance system in time to monitor sensitive areas during Muharram.
Traffic police’s security system failed to record three major acts of terrorism
After the Ashura bomb blast and arson attacks last year, DIG Ghulam Nabi Memon had claimed that the police was acquiring the latest digital surveillance and monitoring system worth Rs1.2 billion so that it can start working before Muharram starts this year. The project has, however, not succeeded beyond tender invitations.
Tenders have been received as many as three times but cancelled later. The last tender was invited three months ago and is still in the evaluation process.
The City District Government Karachi (CDGK) had installed the digital surveillance and monitoring system at Civic Centre and it is being monitored by the law enforcement authorities.
The first phase of this project, worth Rs130 million, was completed in May 2008 with 130 close-circuit television (CCTV) cameras. These cameras were installed along with the required technical support, such as monitoring screens, navigation of CCTVs and recording equipment.
The second phase, worth Rs260 million, was expected to start before Eidul Azha this year so that the entire city could be converted into a digitally protected area especially during Muharram. However, the CDGK lacks the funds to install an additional 165 CCTV cameras.
The digital loop for the second phase will start from Jinnah International Airport and will cover the entire Sharae Faisal up till Hotel Metropole, II Chundrigar Road and the Merewether Tower. Another loop will start from Safoora Goth towards NIPA Chowrangi, Jail Chowrangi and Preedy Street.
The Capital City Traffic Police has also acquired a similar system, worth Rs150 million, but it is mainly for traffic management. This system was managed by the Sindh Information Technology ministry but the machines were of poor quality and were unable to record the video of three main acts of terrorism in the city, mainly Chehlum blast in Nursery, twin blasts at the shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi and the blast on the CID Building.
A CDGK official told The Express Tribune that the city government lacks enough funds to pay for routine repair and maintenance works. There is no chance that the second phase of the command and control system will be completed, he added.
Meanwhile, Capital City Police Officer Fayyaz Leghari said that he was unaware of the details of such a system. It concerns the Sindh Home department and the Sindh IG office, he said.
According to a well-placed officer in Sindh Home Department, who spoke to The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity, the system was due to be completed this year but it kept getting delayed due to different problems. It might take another year to get the system installed, the official said.
It may be mentioned that former Sindh IG Niaz Siddiqui had initiated the system for its e-policing project. With Muharram around the corner, Shia organisations have also expressed their reservations with the security arrangements. A request has been made to provide enhanced security in Shia dominated neighbourhoods of the city, such as Jaffer-e-Tayyar Cooperative Housing Society, Abbas Town and Rizvia Colony.