Time and time again, the Supreme Court (SC) has reiterated its order of removing all billboards in Karachi due to the threat they pose to the civilians. The recent video of a 69-year old motorcyclist being pummelled under the weight of a metal hoarding is indicative of the fact that the directives of the Chief Justice of Pakistan are not being implemented by the provincial government.

For years, billboards have been susceptible to collapse due to strong winds, accompanied by ferocious rainfall during the monsoon season, that dominate the metropolis. As a result, the lives and homes of many are left endangered. Despite the ban imposed by the SC, advertisement companies have persisted and countless billboards have been constructed in public spaces. Subsequently, an unjustifiably large number of people have been killed due to inevitable mishaps. Not only should the advertisement companies be held accountable for violating the law, but the provincial government should assume responsibility for being unable to control the outcome. If officials have rid cities like Lahore of the majority of their billboards, there is no reason why Karachi cannot follow suit.

Outside of the fact that they are dangerous, large hoardings are also highly obstructive. They can make a city feel congested, contribute towards its hectic atmosphere, distract drivers and have a tendency to dominate the landscape. Additionally, they are also highly inefficient when compared to other forms of advertisements. Billboards are stationary ads that don’t guarantee attention, have limited capacity and are extremely expensive. As such, if taken out of the picture, they do not incur a lack of advertisement choices for companies to promote their services and product. If the trade-off is between saving lives and catering to the wants of corporations, the former takes complete precedence.

The orders of the SC were clear, informed and necessary. It is imperative that execution be carried out proactively and immediately by the provincial government.