Coronavirus pandemic: Sindh CM announces lockdown

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KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali announced that the province will undergo a lockdown after midnight tonight (Sunday).

“After 12:00AM tonight [Sunday night] Sindh will undergo a lockdown,” he said. “People will not be allowed to venture out of their homes unnecessarily.”

The chief minister said that that if citizens needed to go to the hospital, only three persons will be allowed to travel in a car.

In an earlier statement issued after a meeting, the chief minister had said that the government was taking this important decision in the interest of people and hoped that the public will support the government.

The provincial authorities have also sought help from the army to ensure compliance of its orders after the chief minister’s appeal on Friday to the masses to stay indoors was ignored.

Sindh is struggling to contain the coronavirus, as it has reported the highest number of coronavirus cases as far as provinces are concerned, with the total tally rising to 292.

“We are about to take major and difficult decisions for the safety of people,” Murad had said adding that the government was concerned about the welfare of the masses.

“There’s no option but to impose lockdown in the province and I will announce this later today,” Murad said and urged the masses to stay home. No one will be allowed to hit the road without any strong reason.

“A supervisory team is being constuituted to be headed by a Grade-20 officer, said the chief minister. Other departments can contact the officials in case of any difficulty in service delivery.”

The chief minister said only 2500 people have been tested so far in the province. “We are increasing the capacity and making it available at all the divisional headquarters in the province.”

The government is aware of the consequences of these strict measures and are taking necessary steps in this regard, he said. Control rooms would be established at the offices of DG Rangers Sindh and IG Police.

CM Murad also directed the concerned authorities to ensure uninterrupted supply of utilities, TV cable, mobile services, telephone and electricity.

Banks would remain opened and ATM services will not be shut down, he said.

Army’s help sought

The Sindh government has requested the federal government for the deployment of military personnel in the province.

“In the wake of the prevailing situation of the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in the province, the Province of Sindh requires the services of Armed Forces in aid of civil power under Article 245 of Constitution read with Section 131 (a) of Criminal Procedure Code. The details of the requirement will be communicated in due course after assessment in coordination with the quarters concerned,” the letter read.

“It is, therefore, requested to kindly accord approval for deployment of armed forces in aid to Civil Power in the Province of Sindh.”

Relief in utility bills

Meanwhile, CM Murad Ali Shah issued new directives for the utility companies in order to provide relief to the masses.

QESCO, SEPCO and K-Electric have been asked to not collect this month’s bill from those consumers whose monthly bill is less than 5,000 and charge the amount in installments in the next 10 months.

The same instruction is for Sui Southern Gas Company as well. Consumers, whose monthly bill is up to 2,000 should be allowed to pay the amount in 10 installments.

The chief minister also said that electricity and gas connections would not be disconnected in the next two months.

Owners of home and shops were also asked to show flexibility in rent collection.

Murad Ali Shah said he would request the federal government to ensure the continuous supply of gas and fuel to power producers and gas distribution companies.

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