Sunday Mar 22, 2020
KARACHI: Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah announced on Sunday that the province is set to undergo a lockdown after midnight tonight.
"After 12am 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 if citizens needed to go to the hospital, only three persons would be allowed to travel in a car.
Related: Coronavirus live updates
Meanwhile, Sindh Minister for Education Saeed Ghani has shared a vital resource for citizens to follow during the 15-day lockdown in the province.
A Government of Sindh Twitter account will provide all the necessary information and updates during this time.
In an earlier statement issued after a meeting, the chief minister had said the government was taking this important decision in the interest of people and hoped that the public would support the government.
The provincial authorities 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,” Shah said, adding that the government was concerned about the welfare of the masses.
“There’s no option but to impose lock-down in the province and I will announce this later today,” he said and urged the masses to stay home.
No one would be allowed to hit the road without a strong reason.
“A supervisory team is being constituted, 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 was aware of the consequences of these strict measures and was taking necessary steps in this regard, he said. Control rooms would be established at the offices of DG Rangers Sindh and IG Police.
The CM 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 would not be shut down, he added.
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 letter read.
"The details of the requirement will be communicated in due course after assessment in coordination with the quarters concerned.
“It is, therefore, requested to kindly accord approval for deployment of armed forces in aid to Civil Power in the Province of Sindh.”
Meanwhile, Shah issued new directives for the utility companies in order to provide relief to the masses.
The Quetta Electric Supply Company (QESCO), Sukkur Electric Power Company (SEPCO), and the K-Electric have been asked to not collect the bill for the ongoing month from consumers whose monthly bill was less than Rs5,000 and charge the amount in installments over the next 10 months.
The same instruction is for Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) as well. Consumers whose monthly bill was up to Rs2,000 should be allowed to pay the amount in 10 installments.
The chief minister also said 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.
The CM said he would request the federal government to ensure the continuous supply of gas and fuel to power producers and gas distribution companies.