KARACHI: Young men on motorcycles, who either sped through the deserted streets of DHA Phase VIII for the thrill or lurked on street corners to snatch mobile phones, will find in a few months eight security barriers blocking their entry.
This is part of the housing authority’s plan to ‘enhance security’ and monitor those entering from the eight entry and exit points of the recently populated area with the help of e-tagging electronic gates.
The largest phase of all, Phase VIII is spread over 4,400 acres but only 20% of it has been occupied so far. It is also home to dozens of seafront restaurants, a multiplex cinema and mall, and residential apartments.
“We will enhance security and provide a safe environment,” said DHA Administrator Brigadier Zubair Ahmed, who clarified that these electronic gates will only be installed in Phase VIII, with no plans to expand to the remaining phases. “There are 40 to 43 entry exit points in the entire DHA [Karachi],” he said. “We can’t control all of them but we can isolate Phase VIII and we are doing that.”
On Sunday, DHA officials advertised in newspapers about the e-tagging systems, and announced that tenders have already been called. The plan to install the setup is for some time in April.
Brig (retd) Muhammad Rashid Butt, who is the project director for these security gates, explained that Phase VIII residents will be given stickers to be put on their vehicles. Before approaching the electronic gates, the sensors at the barrier will recognise the e-tags and allow the car to pass through.
Separate lanes will be formed for residents and visitors, and closed-circuit television cameras will be installed to record all vehicles entering the area. Visitors will not need e-tags to enter but will be allowed to pass through, as long as they are accompanied by their family or are driving a car. Suspicious ones will be asked to move to a separate lane and then checked before being allowed in. The guarded entry points will be stricter with motorcyclists, Butt explained.
In the first phase, the e-tagging systems will be set in place on the Khayaban-e-Hafiz and Saba Avenue entrances to Phase VIII. The gates will be manned by officials of the DHA Vigilance but the local police and Rangers will help if needed. The official added that employees of restaurants on Do Darya can be issued passes.
Mugging incidents in Phase VIII, mostly near the Do Darya restaurants or on the dark lanes, have been heard of, though many cases go unreported. Residents are, however, happy with the e-tagging system.
A resident of Creek Vista apartments, Irfan who did not want to share his last name, welcomed the move. “While I welcome the step, I feel that authorities should take notice of bus stops near Do Darya restaurants,” he said, adding that construction workers living inside incomplete houses also need to be restricted.
Samina Jamshed, who lives in Phase V, felt the same measures should be adopted for all other phases as well. “Other phases, which are linked to katchi abadis, should have these check-posts as most of the criminals come from there.”
Resident Syed Raied Arshad, who works for community policing in the area, called for DHA authorities to have better coordination with the police.
Meanwhile, DIG South Jamil Ahmed hailed the e-tags as a good move since most muggers travel on motorcycles. “But motorcyclists know katcha areas, how would they stop them,” he pointed out, adding that crime rates have gone down in the area since January police presence has increased.
Earlier, the police department had established Sahil police station, exclusively for Phase VIII but it remain un-notified by the Sindh government, meaning that the police station cannot register FIRs and there are no lockups.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2016.