ISLAMABAD: Days after 500 stalls at the Sector H-9 weekly bazaar were gutted in a massive blaze, Interior Minister Dr Ahsan Iqbal has assured the affected shopkeepers of the government’s full support in re-establishing their business.
The minister was visiting the site of the blaze near Peshawar Mor along with Minister of State for Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, Islamabad Mayor and Capital Development Authority (CDA) Chairman Sheikh Anser Aziz on Saturday.
They went around the affected stalls and reviewed the damage suffered by shopkeepers in the tragedy.
Affected shopkeepers told the minister about their ordeal and the financial loss they had suffered in the horrific fire.
Later, while speaking to the media, Dr Iqbal said around 600 people were affected by the incident, adding that a damage assessment committee had been constituted which has been directed prepare its report within two days. The report would then be submitted to the prime minister for compensating the affected stallholders.
The interior minister noted that soon after the fire erupted, officials monitoring footage from CCTV cameras installed under the Safe City Project noted it and dispatched rescuers to the spot. This prompt action along with other safety measures adopted by the district administration, the interior minister said, helped curb the fire, otherwise, the magnitude of loss would have been higher.
The minister added that it took firefighters two hours to control the blaze.
He added that the fire could have been extinguished soon after it began if the shopkeepers followed the prescribed safety measures and installed fire extinguishers.
The federal minister directed the CDA to assess all business centres and high-rise shopping malls in the capital city and check whether they were following the required safety measures or not. Moreover, he directed the CDA to make the city’s fire department more efficient. Dr Iqbal said all commercial sites should be fully equipped with the gadgets to tackle emergencies.
Aziz, meanwhile, explained that rescue teams had reached the site nine minutes after receiving the emergency call. He added that the fire was quite intense since it had erupted in clothing and plastic materials, which took firefighters more time to overpower the blaze.
Responding to a question, Dr Iqbal said that his ministry would make the Islamabad Police a role model force for other provinces. He added police stations of the capital would be transformed into model stations by December this year, for which special training was being imparted to personnel.
Moreover, he said Police stations were being equipped with latest technologies, while peace and reconciliatory committees were also being activated in the capital to facilitate citizens. “We will make Islamabad Police a friendly force to serve the public in a more efficient manner,” he remarked.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 27th, 2017.
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