Work on the Sindh Safe City project, primarily focusing on ensuring the availability of crime evidence to authorities so as to curb criminal activities, is likely to begin after a delay of over a year, it was reported on Thursday.
In the initial phase, the project will be implemented in Karachi, and it will later be expanded to other areas of the province.
The Rs24 billion project was conceived to control crime and increase vigilance through modern automated systems, provision of intelligence in cases of emergencies, bringing about improvements in road traffic management and enabling officials to take prompt action to deal with natural disasters.
Under this project, the provincial government aims to introduce an e-policing system, equip police stations with modern tools and install a facial recognition system.
It was approved in 2018, but perhaps proving too ambitious an initiative, implementation remains in in limbo more than a year later.
Sources in the Chief Minister’s House attribute the snags to “security issues” and delays in the provision of funds.
They said the first hurdle appeared when the Sindh apex committee expressed reservations over the provincial government’s plan to adopt a public-private partnership model for the project.
Besides, when Sindh Information, Science and Technology Minister Taimur Talpur was approached, he, too, cited “security issues” as the primary reason behind the delay in the project’s execution. Talpur, who is also member of the Sindh Safe City Authority – aimed at implementing various components of the project – shared that local partners were no longer involved in the project for this very reason.
Asserting that the project’s implementation would begin soon, he said the Sindh Safe City Authority Bill has been passed as the preliminary step, and the authority would soon be constituted.
Following this, work on the project will be formally started, but it would take a few months, he added.
In this regard, a recent meeting chaired by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah was informed that as part of the project, 10,000 cameras would be installed at 2,000 spots in Karachi, the installation of tracking devices on motorcycles was underway, radio frequency identification number plates were being mounted on vehicles and a ballistic testing laboratory was being set up.
The meeting was told that so far, 2,500 cameras, connected to the command and control centre at the Central Police Office, had been installed at various spots in Karachi.
The project has been designed along the lines of the one implemented in Punjab, the legislation for which was passed in 2015. There, the Safe City project has yielded good results, with a drop being observed in the incidence of crime, authorities being facilitated in the identification of terrorists and improvement in traffic management.
It is to be noted that the Sindh Safe City Authority Bill was passed recently by the Sindh Assembly for the formation of the authority. The authority will be headed by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and comprise Talpur, three Sindh Assembly lawmakers, Sindh Planning and Development Department chairperson, home secretary, provincial finance secretary, Provincial Disaster Management Authority director general and civil society representatives.