Lahore’s safe city scheme partially blinded by technical glitches

Foreign company increases maintenance charges by 300%

Muhammad Ilyas March 19, 2020

LAHORE: Safe city solutions prevent crime and help catch criminals who have committed them. Like extra officers on the street, surveillance cameras tend to deter common infractions. But it turns out that the protection Lahore’s safe city scheme is supposed to provide through a vast network of surveillance cameras isn’t necessarily ironclad.

Details available with the Express Tribune show an increasing number of surveillance cameras are off the grid and in need of maintenance. But the maintenance might not happen any time soon as the Lahore Safe City Authority (LSCA) and the foreign company hired for the job have soured on the deal. The company, according to one LSCA official, has increased the service rate by 300%.

The official said, out of the 8,000 cameras that dot the provincial capital, 2,000 are out of order and require maintenance. First announced in 2016 following a series of terrorist bombings, the Lahore’s Safe City scheme has had several technical glitches. At one point, nearly half of the surveillance cameras were off the grid. Cash-strapped, the project recently received a financial bailout worth Rs. 680million.

4,000 Safe City Cameras offline due to lack of funds

The injection of cash was enough to pay the salaries and for the maintenance charges for cameras installed in sensitive locations. “Several cameras were out of order, but we have managed to repair them and get them back online,” said Safe City Authority Chief Operation Officer Akbar Nasir, Some of those cameras, Nasir said, were installed in sensitive areas.

“We managed to get some of them back on the grid before the arrival of the Bangladesh Cricket team,” he claimed. So far, the provincial government has spent Rs 18billion on the project, and similar projects are under construction in Rawalpindi, Multan, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Bahawalpur, and Sargodha.

Technical teams are already working on the projects, according to details provided by officials familiar with the development. While additional funds may have arrived in the Safe City Authority coffer, the body still does not have enough to meet the exuberant demand made by the foreign firm for its maintenance services.

Chastising the foreign company for not keeping its end of the bargain, SCA COO Akbar Nasir said: “By making the demand they are violating the contract.” The report related to the failure of 2,000 cameras, Nasir said, was shared with authorities at all levels. Meanwhile, on a recent visit to the provincial capital, the prime minister was also informed about the progress.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2020.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ

Most Read