Six years on, Karachi yet to become a safe city

The Safe City project, under which Karachi is to see the installation of 10,000 CCTV cameras, will reach completion soon, said Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab, after the scheme had been delayed for around six years. During this period, the initial estimated cost of the project has ballooned from Rs.10 billion to Rs.30 billion and the committee set up to finalise the project has held multiple meetings.

The Safe City project for Karachi was launched in 2015. Besides the installation of 10,000 CCTV cameras across the metropolis, the project was conceived to include the replacement of traditional vehicle number plates by camera-readable radio frequency identification (RFID) number plates to facilitate data collection, among other purposes. These number plates, with security features, were also to be used for tax collection.

Between December 2015 and October 2019, tenders were issued for the purchase of RFID number plates multiple times, but the contract was awarded to no one. Reportedly, a private company that deals in traditional number plates, in collusion with excise department officials, has been creating hurdles in the way of the awarding of tenders for procuring RFID number plates.

“The pilot project for CCTV will be completed within the next few months and the initial stages of the project have been completed,” a spokesperson said, adding that spots for the installation of cameras had also been finalised and funds had been allotted for the cameras.
He, however, admitted that the project had been facing delays. According to Wahab, the Sindh Safe City Authority had been established to expand the project, especially the installation of CCTV cameras, to other cities in the province.