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July 16, 2020

The sorry saga of lingering Peshawar Safe City Project


July 16, 2020

PESHAWAR: The Safe City Project for the capital city of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is an example of how the government is dealing with some of the important projects for the security and welfare of the public.

Proposed over a decade ago to secure Peshawar from terrorist attacks, improve the overall law and order and keep a check on street crimes and treating public at checking points, the project could not be launched due to poor handling of the previous and incumbent governments as well as wrangling between different government departments.

Most of these departments are more interested in gaining powers and control of any project rather than providing security and relief to the public, for which the officials of these departments were recruited and given millions of rupees as salaries.

A source informed this scribe that former chief minister Pervez Khattak and incumbent CM Mahmood Khan have held many meetings regarding the project but none of them could ensure timely completion of the much-needed project for Peshawar. This speaks volumes about the lack of interest by the incumbent and previous governments.

The Safe City projects were proposed over a decade back for Peshawar, Lahore and Islamabad. The projects were completed in Islamabad and Lahore many years back but nothing has been done in Peshawar.

After the completion of the project in Islamabad and Lahore, authorities in Punjab had announced the Safe City projects for seven other cities in the province recently. A special Safe Cities Authority was also been set up in Punjab in 2015.

However, the project could not be started in Peshawar despite facing hundreds of terrorist attacks. Only a few closed-circuit television cameras were installed many months back which was said to be part of the Safe City Project.

One of the plans was to install around 6000 cameras at around 800 points in parts of urban areas of Peshawar.

An official said the CCTV cameras would also improve the public dealing of police at checkpoints and other places as they would be under constant watch.

A source said that a huge amount was allocated for the project in Peshawar in the budget of 2013-14 but invisible hurdles stopped the launching of the project. The project is meant to improve law and order in the district that was targeted the most in the last almost 15 years.

The source added that a few months back Chief Minister Mahmood Khan chaired meetings in which experts from Punjab also participated and it was decided to accelerate work on the Safe City Project in Peshawar.

It was also decided that the Safe City Project would be based on four major components including, integrated emergency response system, integrated surveillance system, intelligent traffic management system and electronic evidence managements system.

The major part of the Safe City Project is the installation of CCTV cameras at key points in the city to keep a check on the movement of suspicious and criminal elements.

A control room will be set up for the project from where the law and order situation will be monitored through cameras.