Pakistan News

Multi-billion rupee Safe City project picked up again

Multi-billion rupee Safe City project picked up again

ISLAMABAD: The government will be reviving the controversial multi-billion rupee ‘Safe City’ project, under which close to 2,000 surveillance cameras would be installed in the capital.

The project was originally conceived by the PPP-led government and spearheaded by the interior ministry headed by Senator Rehman Malik. Under the project, a bombproof command centre of 2,009 sq metres was to be built, to which all the cameras would be connected through 500kms of fibre optic cable, operated through a 4G network.

The project would equip law enforcement agencies with a computer aided dispatch system and other software such as facial recognition and vehicle management system.

Read: Pilot ‘Safe City’ project gets underway

The Safe City project was approved on December 29, 2009 following an agreement between Pakistan and China. The Chinese government agreed to providing $124,719,018 for the project, in the form of a soft loan.

However, the project was challenged in the Supreme Court and a three-member bench on August 23, 2012, comprising Justice Nasirul Mulk (incumbent Chief Justice), Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed struck down the contract.

The SC asked the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to proceed against the then prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and other officials for violating the rules in awarding the $124 million contract to a Chinese firm.

“That the contract was executed in violation of the Public Procurement Rules 2004 and the exemption purportedly granted under Rule 42 of the rules was based on extraneous and irrelevant reasons and, therefore, it is of no legal effect and consequence,” the ruling said.

After the PML-N came to power, the project was renegotiated, according to the rules, with the concerned Chinese company. Later, reportedly, NAB also gave clearance to the project.

A government official privy to the project told Dawn the issue of the Safe City project came up during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s first visit to China, within a month of him taking office.

“The two sides agreed to undertake the project under the same terms and conditions agreed upon in 2009. All formalities pointed out in the SC ruling have been addressed,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2015

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