Smoke settles – Hall Road traders spend day cleaning shops | Pakistan Today

Smoke settles – Hall Road traders spend day cleaning shops

LAHORE: Wednesday was a tiring day for Hall Road traders as they slowly made their way wiping water off their shops after a fire extinguishing episode late on Tuesday night.
A short circuit had erupted fire at Arif Plaza on Tuesday, reducing valuables worth millions into ashes.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Hall Road Traders Union President Baber Mahmood said though Rescue 1122 and Fire Brigade managed to extinguish the fire after a five-hour continuous struggle, it took the shop owners more than 8 hours to wipe off water from the plaza.
“Despite dozens on the job, we have not been able to dry the plaza to start business; it was a tiring day for traders who lost millions of rupees,” said Baber, adding that the fire damaged almost 30 shops on the plaza’s first floor.
He said the fire erupted on the first floor of Arif Plaza late on Tuesday night because of short circuit which engulfed the whole floor in no time. He said the locals called for emergency, and rescue and fire fighting agencies reached Hall Road after 20 minutes.
Three fire fighters and three shopkeepers sustained minor injuries. Rescue officials said the plaza was not constructed according to construction by-laws.
Ahmed, a fire fighter, said “We were forced to break windows and signboards and had to cut electric wires to get through.”
Traders including Naveed, Saqib Butt and Zubair held WAPDA and other government departments responsible and claimed that WAPDA had cut electricity supply at the shops’ closing time which restricted them to properly turn off the electric switches, and later when electricity was restored late at night, the already turned on appliances short circuited resulting in fire.
They alleged that WAPDA officials were also not available to cut electricity supply to help rescue officials in extinguishing the fire. The traders demanded the government help them in recovering their loss.
Data Ganj Bakhsh Town Tehsil Muncipal Officer (TMO) Malik Tariq refused to accept the traders’ logic and said that they should properly switch off all electronic appliances before they leave their shops.
Baber demanded City District Government Lahore (CDGL) to install fire fighting equipments in the plazas at Hall Road. CDGL official Tariq Zaman said they would soon install water pumps to ensure proper water supply to the rescuers for fire fighting at Hall Road. He said that CDGL officials had requested the Hall Road traders to purchase basic fire fighting equipment like fire extinguishing cylinders.
A year ago, District Coordination Officer (DCO) Sajjad Ahmed Bhutta announced to take stern action against owners whose plazas lacked easy access for extinguishers and basic fire fighting equipments.
He had ordered Rescue 1122 and CDGL officials to collect data of such buildings and according to Rescue 1122 sources, there were 450 such buildings located across Lahore while according to Tariq Zaman, there were only 180 such buildings.
Tariq said they had collected data of only those buildings which were constructed ten years ago and does not have proper fire fighting equipments. He said that CDGL with the help of Civil Defence issued notices to the owners of these buildings and owners have promised to develop required infrastructure in a few months.

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