An employee’s death in a ride malfunction at Nisar Shaheed’s Amusement Park Sindbad caused a mere ripple in the park’s routine. On Thursday night after iftar, just 24 hours after the fatal accident, it was reopened for business.
Workers put the unusually subdued atmosphere at the park down to Ramazan, not the accident. The handful of families who had turned up were completely unaware of the incident.
It happened in a matter of seconds. The employees were putting their feet up during the hour-long iftar break on the second day of fasting when some of them decided to have a go at the rides, witnesses told the The Express Tribune.
A relatively new employee, 24-year-old Rizwan, chose the ‘Crazy Plane’ and clambered on with his cousin Omar. The ride is the second one to the left and has no age restriction, so most children, and adults, make a beeline for the winged, apple-red bus-cum-plane.
Just as the swing took off, the operator heard a sickening crunch, a thud and the sound of blood splattering on to the pavement below. Rizwan had taken the last seat on the ride and somehow, his head had bashed through a glass window and collided with a metal bar. He was rushed to hospital but the head injury proved fatal.
The authorities felt that shutting the swing down for some time was enough to avoid further mishaps. A boat ride is under construction as well and the swing coupon seller at the entrance casually informs visitors that the first few rides are out of order and they can use the coupons for other swings instead.
Sindbad General Manager Saeed Qazi also feels that the incident was an unfortunate but isolated event. “All of our swings are well maintained,” he said. “None of them go above 20 to 30 feet so there is no chance of getting badly injured.” All of the 12 swings at the park have been imported from Italy, with the exception of the ‘Octopus’ and each one has two attendants, an operator and a ticket-checker, he said. The operator checks the oil, belts and door locks of the machine before the park opens and the ticket-checker makes sure safety measures are in place for each person. First aid boxes are kept at the gate and at every second slide, for small injures. Every year, during Ramazan, the machines are closed for maintenance.
In 2004, when three children died in an accident at Aladdin Amusement Park, all of its rickety rides, swings and swimming pools were sealed by the city district government.
The then city nazim, Niamatullah Khan, imposed Section 144 in the Criminal Procedure Code that prohibited the operation of all rides and swings in parks of Karachi for a week. He formed an inquiry committee and directed all park management to look into their safety measures.
This time around, however, no such notice was taken. The authorities were quick to clean up the mess and hush up the matter. One of Rizwan’s friends said that some minor accidents have also occurred at the park and have gone unnoticed. The friend, who preferred to remain unnamed, told The Express Tribune that Rizwan’s family has not been compensated. The management, however, said that his family lived in Delhi Colony and is being given some compensation.
Qazi insisted that the accident was not the result of a technical fault and all the machines are in perfect working order. The harassed manager claimed that, of the four Sindbad branches, his is known for its safety, atmosphere and cleanliness and it is among the city’s few entertainment areas. As for precautions, he said that all the rides are planned with safety in mind. An accident such as this one can only be called an unfortunate rarity, he concluded.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2011.