Security concerns?: Steel shuttering clamps down on offerings at Napier Mole Bridge

Neither the police nor the town know of threats, as claimed by KPT.

Suleman Saadat October 24, 2011


On the pretext of security, the Karachi Port Trust has deprived the city’s residents of one of its most popular recreation spots, with people saying that the move may have come in the wake of the opening of a food street for the rich.

Steel shuttering has been placed on both sides of the Napier Mole bridge, a spot where people from all parts of the city gather to feed the kites and the fish with fresh dough balls and pieces of meat, in the belief that this would help tide them over with their problems, which range from the earthly to the spiritual.

A food street has been built on the Native Jetty bridge, which stands next to the Napier Mole bridge and it is believed that the shuttering was placed to ensure privacy for the patrons of the complex.

But the KPT says that this is not the reason. It claims that as it is the port area, such activities cannot be entertained here. But people have been coming to make the small offerings at the bridge ever since it has been in existence. Why were the shutters placed only now?

KPT official Shafique Faridi’s explanation was that the area around the bridge “has been covered after security threats were received for the port.” He added that the bridge was not meant for “this kind of activity and as it is heavily crowded most of the time and becomes very difficult to maintain surveillance.” But the area becomes extremely dark after sunset. If surveillance were a concern, much more lighting would be needed.

Despite KPT’s claims, the police says it has received no threats. “The KPT administration has not informed us about any threat that they received, otherwise we would have deployed our staff and tightened up security,” said Abdullah Ghumro, who is the SHO of Jackson police station.

The area also falls in the jurisdiction of Keamari Town, but its administrator, Mohammad Salman, backed the police’s statement. “I have no knowledge why this steel shuttering has been placed and no one from the KPT administration informed us before doing that.”

Earlier, this shuttering only covered the side that faced Native Jetty bridge. Now, the dough ball sellers say that despite standing from dawn to dusk, they hardly sell ten to twelve plates to passers-by ever since the alteration was made, just after a few months of the launch of the grand food complex. “Previously we used to sell 100 to 150 plates daily. People belonging to every religion used to buy [the dough balls],” said Aslam, one of the sellers. The new complex and the shuttering has obscured the temple below and the water, as a result of which people feel their ‘sacrifices’ won’t have the same effect.

Another visitor, Nadeem Asif, who lives nearby, said, “My family and I used to come here to protect ourselves from Nazar-e-badd (the evil eye) whenever we saw some nightmare. But now we don’t feel comfortable anymore because of the narrow space left due to the steel shuttering fixed over the footpath grille.”

Published in The Express Tribune, October 25th, 2011.


Bahadur Ali | 10 years ago | Reply

KPT is not honest about their intention. We must know that world don't shutter-up scenery or a past time for the public due to lack of security. We must provide security for public instead of giving to terrorist threats. City don't start closing, beaches, parks, fountains, streets or any other public amusement area. Italy has a bridges where lovers are found putting lock in the grill or removing them all the times for their partners. Water fountain at road crossing are center for make-a-wish crowd around the world. In London, Thames and other bridges are full of fishing pedestrians in trout and salmon season or without. Bridges also become a "Marathon Center" in spring around the the world. People love bridges and fantasize about them, they love to walk or stroll on it. In this City of dwindelling recreational resources anything & everything that relieve people of daily stress or for the poor to make a buck must be allowed. Otherwise the city will turn into an army cantonment, devoid of any free activity, where you need a permission in advance, "jay walking" is totally ban, there "Restricted Area" sign are posted every hundred yards. I request KPT to reconsider their decision for the masses.

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