Crimes on rise in capital as over 700 safe city cameras dysfunctional

Px14-036 ISLAMABAD: Nov14 - Technicians fixing cameras as part of safe city project in Islamabad. ONLINE PHOTO by Muhammad Asim
  • Police say 5,348 criminal cases have been registered in 2018 so far

ISLAMABAD: The tall claims of the government about the utility of Safe City Project in federal capital have risen to ground as the project has failed to provide assistance to the security apparatus with over 700 cameras turning dysfunctional and others simply failing to provide key clues to the security forces to help in curbing crime.

Sources told Pakistan Today the repair and maintenance of the project have often been neglected and therefore, once the camera gets some technical issue, it never gets repaired.

Teddy Lee, the spokesman of Huawei company which installed Safe City Project cameras, told Pakistan Today that he would respond to all the questions after getting a response from the company.

However, the company spokesman did not take further calls and did not give answers to the questions asked, reflecting his unwillingness to respond to the project’s failure.

Two years on, the project seems to be stuttering as sources confided in Pakistan Today that as many as 711 cameras are not functioning for many months due to unknown reasons. The police, however, put all the blame of dysfunctional cameras on the on-going construction work on different sites in the capital.

On the other hand, the cameras have also failed to provide key clues which could be used to nab the criminals in certain important cases like that of flags of the terrorist group Da’esh appearing along the Islamabad Expressway on September 24, 2016.

Similarly, the cameras were blind when a journalist was attacked by unidentified assailants in Sector G-7/1 on October 10, 2017, and when another journalist was allegedly intercepted and beaten up by four gunmen near Koral Chowk on January 10 this year.

Under the safe city project, over 1,900 surveillance cameras have been installed across the city, with a command and control centre set up in Sector H-11 to monitor important buildings, entry and exit points, roads, commercial centres and a sizable portion of residential areas.

Talking about the situation of crimes in the city, the then interior minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan had said, “Although a huge amount has been spent on the safe city project, I will only be satisfied when the crime rate is brought to zero.”

However, the facts and figures obtained by Pakistan Today portray an opposite picture.

Despite spending over Rs13 billion on the project, as many as 5,348 criminal cases have been registered in 2018 so far, 6,893 cases of crimes of different nature were registered in 2017, compared to 6,814 cases registered in 2016, which points towards the incompetence of Islamabad police and inefficiency of the safe city project.

According to the official data accumulated by the police department, Islamabad Police have arrested 3,677 criminals including 850 absconders and recovered valuables worth more than Rs304.8 million rupees in 2018 so far.

Police officials also said that over 800 cases have been traced and solved with the help of safe city cameras since January 2017.