Post-election scenario: In twin cities, drive to remove campaign material needs more steam

Posters and banners litter suburbs.

Waqas Naeem May 16, 2013
Election posters of candidates are being loaded into a vehicle after getting them down in different areas of Rawalpindi. PHOTO: INP


After witnessing an amazing voter turnout on election day and brief celebrations, life in the federal capital is slowly returning to normal after the polls.

With the exception of the Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaf anti-rigging protests at D-Chowk, fanfare about politics has moved off the streets and back to drawing room conversations and discussions at roadside dhabas.

The Capital Development Authority (CDA) is trying to play a part in the return to normalcy. The civic agency has removed some of the election campaign material put up by candidates who contested elections from the city’s two National Assembly constituencies.

CDA’s Directorate of Municipal Administration (DMA) has taken down banners, streamers and posters from most avenues and major roads in various sectors. The material will sold be in an auction next month. However, in some markets and inner streets of residential areas, streamers and posters are still visible.

The capital’s rural areas, which fall under NA-49, are also still littered. CDA has removed hosts of banners from Kashmir and Rawal Chowk, but not far away, in Bhara Kahu, banners are a common sight.

A senior DMA official told The Express Tribune that the CDA has removed around 50 truckloads of campaign material from the city. The official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to speak with the media, said the DMA was arranging for a crane, used for maintenance of lampposts, to remove flags and posters that are still affixed to the top of the posts.

“The election campaign material will be auctioned along with other material confiscated by the DMA’s encroachment staff,” the official said. “We will make a separate category for the streamers and banners this time.”

Candidates owe CDA money

Before the candidates put up the campaign material on city lampposts, they took permission from CDA and paid a fee for displaying their banners and posters: Rs60 for streamers and Rs100 for banners.

The DMA official said that the DMA staff removed twice as many streamers and banners as it had allowed.

“We have served 15-day notices on candidates to pay the fee for the additional streamers and banners they and their supporters put up around the city,” the official said.

According to information provided by the CDA on April 24, candidates from two constituencies had been granted permission for 12,600 streamers altogether. The CDA had put a brief ban on banners at the time.

Bigger city, slower progress

Compared to Islamabad, the operation to remove election campaign material in the garrison city is sluggish at best. The Rawal Town Municipal Administration (TMA) has set itself an ambitious target, one that it is struggling to achieve: to remove all election campaign paraphernalia by Friday.

An officer in the TMA’s encroachment wing, who requested anonymity, said their staff was removing campaign material on a daily basis. “The city is divided into four areas,” the officer said. “So far, we have removed around four to five truckloads of banners.”

The TMA will also auction the material. Both Islamabad and Rawalpindi municipal administrations did not have an estimate of the amount of money these auctions might generate. But interested parties include advertising companies and industries that usually recycle the panaflex.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th, 2013.


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