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Friday June 21, 2024

Sindh govt releases Rs4bn for Karachi Safe City Project

By Imdad Soomro
May 16, 2024
This representational image shows a security surveillance camera overlooking a street. — Reuters/File
 This representational image shows a security surveillance camera overlooking a street. — Reuters/File

The Sindh government has released Rs4 billion for the first phase of much much-awaited Karachi Safe City Project, The News has learnt from a senior official.

The project is the main component of the Sindh Safe City Authority and will be completed in two years. Besides Asif Aijaz Shaikh, director general of the authority, has also been appointed as the drawing disbursing officer (DDO) of the whole project.

Earlier, the Sindh Safe Cities Authority DG had approached the Sindh government for the approval and release of funds for the establishment of the Sindh Safe Cities Project (Phase-I), Karachi. The administrative approval of the Annual Development Programme Scheme ‘Establishment of Sindh Safe Cities Project (Phase-I), Karachi’ under the Karachi Safe City Project was approved by the Planning and Development Department, on January 8, 2024, amounting to Rs6.62 Billion.

In the first phase, a Control Room Building of the Safe City project will be completed and it will cover the Red Zone, Sharea Faisal, and Airport Corridor. Data comprising photographs of jail inmates will also be attached to the system and it will be completed in two-and-a-half years. Twenty-three smart vehicles, a total of 6,000 cameras including 1,300 facial recognition cameras will be part of the first phase. These cameras will be capable of facial recognition, recording vehicle number plates, and taking pictures with night vision. The Command-and-Control Building is also being built adjacent to the Karachi Police Office. The project will be completed in two phases consisting of 12,000 cameras along with the upgradation of 2,000 existing cameras.

Earlier in 2016, the Supreme Court had directed the Sindh government to establish a safe city system in the province, especially in Karachi. The Sindh government took four years to form a ‘Sindh Safe City Authority’ in 2020 and a contract for the project was assigned to M/S National Radio and Telecom Corporation. The Safe City project in Lahore and Islamabad became operative in 2016 and 2018 respectively.

On May 11, 2024, the chief justice of the Sindh High Court, Justice Aqeel Ahmad Abbasi, while presiding over a meeting of the Provincial Justice Committee, emphasized the critical need to accelerate the Safe City Project, which focuses on bolstering surveillance capacities by deploying CCTV cameras across key urban centres and strategic locations.

Emphasizing the paramount importance of safeguarding citizens, the chief justice issued directives for ensuring the completion of the project’s initial phase within a stringent timeframe of two years.