Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Moon Market ,Lahore Mayhem!

Yesterday we had not recovered from the gory scenes of death and destruction from Peshawar bomb blasts and Quetta bomb blasts that our tv screens were pasted with the fire and destruction at the twin blasts that killed 43 and injured more than 100 innocent people shocking  us and making our nights nightmarish. The fires were burning in the markets, reaching dangerously close to a petrol pump nearby. There were reports of the fire engulfing the many houses in the vicinity. The sad part was that the fire extinguishing water tankers were insufficient to deal with this kind of tragedy. By the time the meager amount was put on fire, the water would finish and it took time to fill the next bowser. All markets in Pakistan have no fire extinguishing equipment in place. There is no sprinkling system,no fire alarm. There is no evacuation plan in crowded often, fully packed markets. There are no exit points, no exhaust fans and routs for smoke. The market is administered on adhoc basis. For a market that caters to millions of people, only one Chowkidar, or watchman is present in two shifts, night and day. The manager is not designated. Often there is no manager. The owner just  is responsible for the rent collection. In case there are several owners or shops and they do not care about either a disaster management program or fire hazard. there is no sense of responsibility or feel for human life in case of accident or hazard. They are only concerned with their prayer timing, keeping chanda(donation) boxes of some militant or pseudo -religious organisations in their shops. All spaces whether entrances, footpaths,open verandas are encroached with goods and hurdles by the shopkeepers. The parking areas especially in front of shops are hurdled by sticks and boards and stones as resreved car parking. In case of emergency , there would be no space to go out or reach inwards by emergency workers or staff. There are no shutes for evacuation in multistoried buildings. In North Nazimabad, Karachi, there are now massive shopping plazas, with no windows and ventilators. All front is sealed. In case of fire or emergency, most people will die of suffocatoion.The front panels are used for large advertising spaces. When the shoppers will die, who cares for advertising.
This kind of mentality is rampant all over Pakistan. It is so sad that the terrorists bombings are opening our eyes to the need for a proper disaster management plan for large buildings and markets. Even the Margalla Towers tragedy in earthquake did not really make the people of these large markets and buildings aware enough to take these measures seriously.
How the fire engulfed and destroyed the whole area is a tragedy and even the news reporters do not follow this story and it is left behind. All disaster handling is done to avert human tragedy. The newsreportes should follow this aspect so that there is enough information and emphasis on advocacy.

As regards the Punjab govt., I hope they realize that Local government is not just about General Musharraf, but about a good grass root level community participation including firefighting, disaster management, hospitals and clinics, community policing etc.such tragedies can be prevented and their aftermath handled .If Citizen Community Boards are there in place to guide and steer the needs of the citizens on all local issues. Emergency and rescue, firefighting and disaster handling are all such issues which need infrastructure and human resource at the local level. I do hope that the Chief Minister of Punjab realizes that we just cannot do a one man show and every one has to participate in saving the most beautiful city of Punjab, the beautiful, Alive Lahore! A great Heritage City deserves All our Attention, love and care. Commit to Lahore, Commit to Save Lahore. Our sincere condolences to all the people who lost their loved ones and support and Duas to all who are injured.


  1. No doubt the most important thing is to think about the ills our scoiety is suffering from: terrorism, prejudice, extremism, psudeo religious thugs - the mullas, and all the nasty killings going on in the name of religion but cannot ignore things about the blings in our life.

    You are very right about large advertising panels. I visited a posh market in Gulberg Lahore for Shopping and my first question was how air and light pass through hours of elctricity loadshedding and what will happen if God forbidds a fire breaks out.

  2. Thanks for reading and commenting on my post. my perspective and concern is always the health, well bieng and safety of the people.we have to follow very people friendly and safe practices in all urban areas as population is very large. You would be shocked that the only largest fire station of saddar in Karachi had it's electricity cut down due to non-payment. If God forbid at sucha atime there is fire and emergency what will happen?such is the lethargy and irresponsibility of administration and all concerned with our safety and well bieng.