Street crime in Karachi declined by 4.19pc during caretaker regime, says Baqar

By Our Correspondent
February 26, 2024

The outgoing caretaker Sindh chief minister, Justice (retd) Maqbool Baqar, has said that during his tenure, street crime in Karachi decreased by 4.19%. He also reported that operations in the riverine area of the province had been successful in reducing the number of kidnappings for ransom cases from 21 to 10 per month.

Caretaker Sindh chief minister, Justice (retd) Maqbool Baqartalks to media persons on February 8, 2024. — Facebook/Sindh Chief Minister House

In a statement issued by the CM House on Sunday, the CM said that he took over as the interim provincial chief executive in the middle of August 2023 and during his over six-month tenure, he worked hard and made some tangible improvements.

Justice (retd) Baqar said that Revamping 15 Madadgar police helpline service, initiating the Sindh Safe City Project after ensuring that its cost was substantially rationalised and addressing issues afflicting police investigations had all contributed to the improvement in the law and order situation. Nonetheless, he remarked, the government machinery was conscious of the fact that crime would continue to rear its head if policing was not supplemented by better governance and egalitarian policies.

While acting against major suppliers of narcotics, the caretaker CM said he contemporaneously increased funding to rehabilitate those who struggled with narcotics addiction.

He also expressed grief over the impact of floods on the educational landscape of the province. He said his government strived to secure $275 million for the funding of 1,600 schools damaged by the floods. Observing that teacher absenteeism was prevalent throughout schools in Sindh, he said the government initiated installation of biometric machines for attendance in public schools. Science and computer labs at schools were also reactivated, he added.

The statement read that conscious of the gap between public and private schools, Justice (retd) Baqar directed private schools to grant financial aid and grants to at least 10 per cent of their students. Such assistance would allow deserving students’ access to quality education notwithstanding their financial status.

Another issue which afflicted education in public schools was the paucity of books. Upon intervention, the interim CM realised the Sindh Textbook Board’s dire straits and addressed its financial problems.

Regarding health care, the statement read that the interim CM inspected hospitals and healthcare facilities, examining the state of their emergency, laboratories, ambulances, kitchens, restrooms, and availability of doctors and paramedics. Interacting with patients at the health facilities drew his attention to issues in the supply of medicines. Cognisant of the possibility of pilferage in pharmacies associated with government hospitals, Justice (retd) Baqar directed the procurement of dedicated software for stock-keeping.

Moreover, directions were also passed to vacate private pharmacies within public hospitals. The statement read that although the caretaker government may not have the time, space or mandate to undertake any major infrastructure rehabilitation, the caretaker CM made an effort to expedite the Sharea Faisal Development Project, removal of illegal hydrants and regulation of the supply of water through tankers.

The Karachi Water and Sewerage Corporation (KWSC) began placing QR codes on water tankers to prevent unauthorised tankers. Furthermore, efforts were made to rehabilitate the 6,000 people affected by the anti-encroachment operations on the land along the Gujjar and Orangi nullahs, the statement read.

A plan to redesign and uplift various federal quarters in Karachi, including Martin and Clayton Quarters, was also devised to equip them with modern amenities and give proprietary rights to their inhabitants.

The caretaker government also dedicated a water line to DHA City and SITE, revived a RO Plant at Manora, conducted a fire safety audit of buildings in the city to prevent loss of lives in fire-related incidents, procured additional snorkels, rehabilitated infrastructure including roads, parks, walkways and lights, developed cultural and heritage sites such as Chaukandi to ensure its enlistment as a World Heritage Site by Unesco.

According to the statement, the CM held meetings with labour leaders across the province to gather their perspectives. As a result of these consultations, a minimum wage of Rs32,000 was announced for all the labourers across the province. Additionally, labour inspectors were directed to regularly visit commercial and industrial establishments to ensure compliance with applicable legal requirements and take action against the violators.

Another issue that was raised during these meetings concerned the state of the Workers’ Welfare Apartments that had fallen into disrepair and were occupied by unauthorised individuals. The government intervened to get them vacated, renovate, restore utilities and return their possession to their rightful allottees.

Dilating on policies for the welfare of marginalised communities, the caretaker government took measures to help persons with disabilities. The government awarded grants in aid amounting to Rs796.50 million to partner organisations to cater to the needs of those with disabilities.

The caretaker government also made efforts to enhance the recruitment process in the public sector. For this, the CM brought about a change in the legal framework to ensure that the district registrars were appointed through the Sindh Public Service Commission (SPSC).

The caretaker government also extended financial support to various bar associations and media organisations as it believed in the vital role of the journalist and legal fraternity in the development of society, the statement read.

The interim CM concluded his statement by quoting Robert Frost’s verses, "The woods are lovely, dark and deep/ But I have promises to keep/ And miles to go before I sleep/ And miles to go before I sleep", to express the need for more work for the development of Sindh.