An unsolved issue: Central jail remains vulnerable to attacks as KMC, jail officials point fingers

Both parties claim the other is to blame for delays in construction of protective wall and link road.


Photo Athar Khan/Ali Ousat August 04, 2014

KARACHI:


The Jail Chowrangi flyover poses a serious threat to the security of the Karachi Central Jail as the 1,100 feet protection wall along the flyover has yet to be built.


The construction of the wall is being delayed as jail officials have yet to relocate their offices and houses in order to allow the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) to build a link road in their place, despite the KMC building them alternative houses.

“The jail administration asked us to build the house of the prison IG before they relocate and now they want us to furnish it as well,” claimed KMC administrator Rauf Akhtar Farooqui. He added that the KMC has already built a state-of-the-art residence for the prison IG, as well as 96 apartments for the jail’s staff.

Farooqui claimed, however, that the jail administration has yet to relocate in order to provide space for the link road for traffic from the PIB Colony to the University Road.

“Due to the threat of a militant attack, it is vital that the protection wall is built as soon as possible,” said Farooqui. “If anything happens, then it will be on jailer sahib’s shoulders.”

The KMC administrator’s words were echoed by the flyover’s project director, Shabiul Hassan. “Everything has gone according to plan as far as the KMC is concerned but there has been a hold-up since jail authorities have yet to relocate,” he told The Express Tribune. “The road that is being planned for construction will allow traffic from the Jail Chowrangi to access the University Road without having to use the flyover.”

Prison officials disagree

Jail officials, however, refute KMC’s claims that Mangan had asked them to furnish his residence and also that they are to blame for the delay in the construction of the protective wall and the link road. “They have yet to complete the construction of the IG house, so how can they blame us for causing the delay in the link road?” asked central jail superintendent Kazi Nazeer Ahmed.

“The protection wall has nothing to do with the IG house in the first place. The relocation is to provide space for the link road, not for the protection wall, so they cannot present that as an excuse for having failed to build the wall.”

Hurry up

Karachi commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui is aware of the security threats faced by the central jail and wants the protection wall to be built as soon as possible. “We have directed KMC’s works and engineering department to build the wall immediately,” he said. “The jail is a sensitive location as far as the possibility of militant attacks is concerned and it is vital that the authorities act with sincerity to deal with the matter.”

The flyover

The Jail Chowrangi flyover was built to help ease traffic flow from the Shaheed-e-Millat Road, the University Road and and the New MA Jinnah Road, and its total cost is estimated to be over Rs1.33 billion, out of which Rs965 million were spent on the flyover, while the rest were for the construction of the houses and offices for the jail administration.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2014.

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