KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, in order to contain and curb further spread of coronavirus, has decided to impose a complete lockdown from 12am Monday (March 23) for the next 15 days all over Sindh. “I have no other option but to save the people of Sindh from this epidemic.” He took this decision just after presiding over different meetings with his government teams and with the opposition political parties.
The chief minister in his video message and press statement released from the CM House on Sunday said that he (the CM) had imposed a lockdown all over Sindh right from tonight for the next 15 days. He said that he was announcing the lockdown in consultation with all political parties, within and outside parliament, ulema and people of other walks of life. “The cases of local transmission of the disease are spreading and we have to contain them, otherwise, everything will go out of control,” he said.
He said that from tonight (12am) onwards for 15 days, all the offices, gathering places, public transport and bus stands would remain closed. “Nobody will be allowed to come out of his home unnecessarily for which I have given clear instructions to the law enforcement agencies and administration,” he said.
Shah categorically said that the people who have to go to hospital would be allowed but vehicles carrying them would have only three persons, driver, the patient and one attendant and they should have with them their CNICs. He also said that during the time of relaxation of the lockdown, to be announced by the government, only one person would be allowed to go to market/shop. In case of using vehicle, only two persons would be allowed, the driver and the person going for shopping.
Shah said that the people involved in hoarding and artificial price hike of essential items would be taken to task. “We have arranged special teams to check the artificial price and hoarding issue,” he said and added: “The supply chain of food, including vegetables, meat and others goods will be maintained.”
The chief minister before announcing the imposition of complete lockdown took leaders of different political parties into confidence. He briefed them on the prevailing situation and the decision, which has been taken to impose a complete lockdown. The political leaders who attended the meeting with the CM included Muhammad Zubair of PML-N, Firous Shahmim Naqvi and Haleem Adil of PTI, Amir Khan and Kishwar Zahra of MQM, Mohammad Younis Soomro of PTL, Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman of Jamaat-e-Islami, Nand Kumar and Shaharyar Maher of GDA, MPA Rasheed, M Aslam Ghori of JUI-F and others.
All the leaders of political parties endorsed the decisions and directives of the CM to prevent further spread of coronavirus epidemic in the province.
The Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, directed all the agencies providing essential services to suspend their billing for consumers belonging to the lowest slabs of consumption for the current month and then start recoveries in easy installments during the next 10 months. He directed K-Electric, Hesco (Hyderabad Electric Supply Company) and Sepco (Sukkur Electric Power Company) to suspend recovery of powers bills of those consumers whose bills would be up to Rs4,000 for this month and then start recoveries in 10 monthly easy installments. Similarly, he said the SSGC authorities would follow suit as it has been requested to defer recovery of its bills of up to Rs2,000. He also directed power distribution companies, phone and mobile companies, water supply and sanitation institutions to continue with their services uninterrupted and there should not be any disconnection of their service.
The CM also directed the landlords not to collect rent of their properties from their tenants for this month and then collect the same in easy instalments. He also urged the employers to pay full salaries to their daily wagers so that they could meet their square meal in this difficult situation. Shah said that the wings of political parties, religious parties and philanthropists would keep supporting poor people by giving them rations. “The Sindh government will also ensure provision of ration or cash to the poor people and daily wagers,” he claimed.
The chief minister said that the Sindh government was going to establish its official Twitter and FaceBook Accounts where all government instructions, notifications and necessary guidelines would be posted. The twitter and Facebook accounts would be shared with the media. The chief minister said that the decision had been taken with collective wisdom of all the relevant stakeholders and in the supreme interest of the people of Sindh, therefore, everyone living in the province would have to cooperate. “Your defiance is bound to fail the entire process,” he said.
Sindh Minister for Information and Local Government Syed Nasir Hussain Shah said that in order to control the spread of novel caronavirus, there would be complete lockdown for 15 days in Sindh from midnight i.e. 12:00am Monday. The minister said that this tough decision was taken after reviewing the complete situation evolving after the spread of caronavirus.
In his statement on Sunday, Syed Nasir Hussain said that Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah took this decision while presiding over an important meeting on Sunday. All the cabinet members, including ministers, advisers, special coordinators to Sindh chief minister, chief secretary Sindh, director general Sindh Rangers, Brigadier Waseem of V Corps, Inspector General Police, Sindh, Additional Inspector General, concerned officers of provincial disaster management and all other relevant officers were present during the meeting. He said that caronavirus had transmitted locally to 80 people in Karachi alone. Syed Nasir Hussain Shah said that people should not call it a curfew but instead they should consider it as a step “for your own care”.
He said that Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah was of the opinion that the government should adopt every possible measure that could be beneficial for the health and security of the people. He said that after the lockdown, no one would be allowed to leave his home unless facing an unavoidable situation. Only patients would be allowed to visit hospital and that too with only one person and with the permission of security officials. Syed Nasir Hussain Shah said that availability of basic utilities including water, electricity and gas would be ensured to the public. He said that the supply of electricity to those who could not pay their current bills would not be disconnected.
Syed Nasir Hussain Shah further said that action would be taken against whosoever would stockpile essential food items and those who sold essential items on high prices. During the lockdown, every type of gathering had been banned. Seminaries and other worship places would be closed, he added. The minister said that all the educational institutes, shopping malls, public parks and government offices had already been closed in the province. He appealed to the people to follow whatever decisions were being taken by the Sindh government as all these decisions were taken in support of them. However, restaurants would be allowed to offer home delivery service and grocery, milk, fish, chicken, meat and vegetable shops/stalls would remain open as usual, the minister said. He said that the chief minister had also decided to establish the Coronavirus Relief Fund of Rs3 billion to which he would donate his one-month salary. “We should not be uncertain in doing what we must to control the spread of the virus. We are putting health of the people first.” The minister said that Syed Murad Ali Shah said that he understood that people might find the actions taken by the government inconvenient as it would become difficult to perform their daily routine but this was necessary to curb the spread of Covid-19 that might cost innocent lives of the people of the province.
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