LAHORE - Punjab Police chief Arif Nawaz Wednesday visited the headquarters of Safe City Authority, which has been inviting a lot of criticism over its failure to timely launch and effectively run the Lahore Safe City project.

Addressing police officers during a meeting there, the inspector general of police dubbed as Lahore Safe City Project as “a marvelous scheme of modern technology”.

The multi-purpose system, developed at an estimated cost of Rs12 billion, was inaugurated in first week of January this year after years-long delay, but it is still not fully functional.

Major technical hitches and issues like unregistered number plates that can’t be read by the cameras are preventing the system to deliver. The high-tech surveillance system, developed with the help of Chinese company Huawei, is said to comprise 8,000 high-definition close circuit cameras, besides other technological paraphernalia and 600 monitoring posts. It has been observed that at many places the cameras stopped working after their flashers flickered on the vehicles for a few weeks. For example, some of the cameras on the Canal Road - the jugular vein of city traffic system - have been seen to go off.

The system is apparently partly functional as its traffic prong i.e. the e-ticketing service has not been started yet. Under this program the traffic violators are to be caught by the cameras and automated tickets are to be sent to them at their doorsteps.

It has not made any major impact on the crime control – which is its primary function.

Safe City Authority MD Ali Aamir Malik told the IGP that many important cases of crime were worked out with the help of the safe city system.

He claimed that 568 video recordings of murder, robbery, firing, theft and traffic accidents, besides other culpable crimes, were provided to investigations officers and different government institutions during this year.

This figure is quite modest in face of the high incidence of on-road crimes.

Probably this is why the IGP now appears to be aiming at the limited use of the safe city project – at least for now.

Arif Nawaz directed the authorities to ensure close monitoring of protesters on The Mall (road) to take action against the violators.

He issued these instructions just two days after the home department declared the key road as a red zone and banned all types of protests on it.

According to a police spokesman, the safe city cameras will be used to make videos of demonstrations and pictures of individual protesters, to identify and book the law violators. The police chief also directed the officers that the exit and entry points of the city should be monitored properly with the help of safe city cameras, patrolling force, Dolphins squads and Police Response Units.

The officers who attended the meeting included Lahore CCPO Amin Wains, Punjab Additional-IG (Operations) Aamir Zulfiqar Khan and DIG Sultan Ahmad.