Ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-insaf’s incompetence in the safe cities project in Peshawar and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) has now affected Lahore as well. A project that was running smoothly during the previous government’s reign is now only partially operational, with funds being released in instalments and half of the project’s capacity lying unused.

The PTI government in KP even went as far as to allocate a huge sum in the 2013-2014 budget without anything to show for it after five years. Given that the government has been unable to institute a project that was planned in tandem with other cities – Lahore included – shows the level of current interest in this endevour. Implementing the safe cities programme in Peshawar is instrumental, considering that the city that has seen the highest number of terrorist attacks compared to other cities.

Lahore’s safe city project had been running smoothly up until recently, when it was turned into a tussle between the bureaucracy and the police over who gets to run this highly expensive project. Roughly 50 percent of Lahore’s CCTV cameras are no longer operational, because the government has failed to continue funding for a project that saves precious human lives.

The Chief Minister has announced for funds to be released at the earliest for all CCTVs to become operational in the city once again, but the provincial government cannot run every project under its purview in this ad-hoc manner. There are reports that this inter-departmental kerfuffle is what has led to a delay of over five years in executing the project in Peshawar as well. If this is true, the problem then lies with the ruling party; its own administrative hang-ups must not be allowed to seep into every fabric of government at the provincial and federal levels.

The project should not have to rely on the Chief Minister to function. This is why budgets are allocated – and then released – annually, so that the entire administration of a province does not rest solely on the shoulders of one individual. If every project that is currently functioning in Punjab has to go through any Chief Minister’s office, we can expect nothing done efficiently or on time.

The importance of this video surveillance of cities cannot be overstated; where urban centres only relied on police check posts and reactions to reports filed previously, monitoring the city through CCTVs helps in more proactive law enforcement, and provides an opportunity to free up crucial manpower from the streets.

At a time when the Pakistan Cricket Board is looking to bring cricket back through the Pakistan Super League and a series with Bangladesh – both of which will require upgraded security in Lahore – this negligence is criminal, as is the government’s laborious attempts to provide a fix.

The Safe City project should be left in the hands of the law enforcement professionals who established it and have been instrumental to its success. If it isn’t broke, no need to experience with fixing it.