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Safe City Project for Peshawar in doldrums

Top Story

July 8, 2019

PESHAWAR: The Safe City Project for the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa seems to be in doldrums as work on it could not be initiated despite the lapse of several years.

A number of heads of the project were changed in recent years. They had been tasked with identifying a suitable site for the master control room of the project. They were also supposed to find out points where around 6,000 closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras were to be installed to boost security in Peshawar.

“Not a single brick has been laid so far to establish the control room due to the traditional red-tape. Even the site is yet to be finalised though the former chief executive of the province had ordered time and again to accelerate work on the much-needed project,” a source told The News.

The source said that many deputy inspectors general of police (DIGs) were appointed to head the project and were being assisted by officers and staff from the police and other departments. “Despite several years of work, nothing practical has been done to-date despite the fact that Peshawar needed the project more than Islamabad and Lahore,” the source said.

The Safe City Project for Lahore and Islamabad were completed many years ago. The project in Peshawar, however, could not even be started. It was proposed around 10 years back.

Under the Safe City Project, the CCTV cameras would help the police keep a check on movement of suspicious elements and maintain a record of any untoward incident. The CCTV cameras would be monitored from a control centre equipped with modern technology.

According to officials, the cameras will help improve the behaviour of policemen manning checkpoints.“Identifying the place for the control room was an issue. Once the place is identified, the rest of the work will not take much time,” the director public relations of the KP Police, Shahzada Kokab Farooq, told The News when asked as to why the project got delayed.

He said that survey and other work had already been conducted and only the construction of control room and procurement of the equipment were needed.

“A place near the Central Police Office was once finalized but later work on it was stopped for various reasons,” said the spokesperson.The project coordination unit of the KP Police was tasked to complete the Safe City Project for Peshawar, which has suffered the most due to terrorist attacks in the country during the past one and a half decade.

A number of officers from other government departments were also tasked to assist the PCU in executing the project.However, all the government officials and departments failed to finalize the site and procure land for the control room of Safe City Project.

“Now there are reports that the control room for the project is proposed to be set up in Mera Kachori, which will be inappropriate from security point of view,” said the source.The source said the government has held several meetings, but nothing has been finalized.

“Former chief minister Pervez Khattak during a meeting in February 2018 directed all the departments to expedite work on the project as it would help secure the life and property of the people in Peshawar. But only meetings were held or the survey and paper work has been done to some extent. Practically, nothing has been done to secure the life of the residents,” a source said.

Peshawar remained the prime target of terrorists in the last 13 years due to its proximity to the former tribal areas. Thousands of people, including policemen, soldiers and civilians, lost their lives in suicide attacks, bomb blasts, rocket barrages, target killings and other attacks.

Schools, trade centres, hospitals, offices and other buildings were attacked, causing billions of rupees losses.Under the Safe City Project, CCTVs would also be installed in and outside all the police stations in the province and would be connected with cellular phones of the concerned officials, the district police officer, regional police officer and IGP.

A number of CCTV cameras were installed at police stations and other public places in Peshawar in recent years. The cameras used to cover the view of the lock-up, the office of the moharrar, entrance of the police station as well as surrounding of the building. However, many cameras are not functional due to negligence, lack of commitment and shortage of experts.

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