Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Tuesday inaugurated the long-awaited Rescue 1122 service in the province, a collaboration between the provincial government and the World Bank, and handed over 50 ambulances to authorities.
“The service would be a complete package of rescue, relief and rehabilitation and would be connected to fire brigades and trauma centres across the province,” he said while addressing the inauguration ceremony at the Karachi Municipal Corporation (KMC) Sports Complex.
The ceremony was also attended by World Bank Country Director Najy Benhassine, provincial ministers Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho, Saeed Ghani, Bari Pitafi, Shehla Raza, Advisers Murtaza Wahab and Haji Rasool Bux, Special Assistants Waqar Mehdi and Qasim Siraj Soomro and Director General Provincial Disaster Management Authority Salman Shah.
CM Shah said that the government aimed to procure 230 ambulances, of which 50 are being put to service in Karachi from today.
He added that the ambulance service would be expanded to other divisions and districts of the province later. “I believe, by October, the fleet of 230 ambulances will be completed,” Shah said, adding that the service will add 40 new ambulances to its fleet every month.
The ambulances were the first step towards establishing a full-fledged Rescue 1122 service in Sindh, the chief minister said.
He added that the service was needed because of “unprecedented trends of urban expansion and recurring natural as well as human-induced disasters experienced by the province in the last decade, especially the COVID-19 pandemic”.
According to a press release from the Chief Minister House, CM Shah said it was the government’s responsibility to ensure public safety and healthcare by addressing different emergencies.
“My government’s top priority is to provide an emergency rescue, relief and rehabilitation service to the people whenever any disaster strikes…a service which provides aid efficiently and as quickly as possible, a service which deals with the catastrophe as the first responder and tries to mitigate the consequences of it,” CM Shah said.
A central command and control centre would be set up in the project’s next phase, while work was also being done to make divisional headquarters operational, the chief minister said. In addition, the provincial government was holding negotiations with the World Bank to improve rescue centres across the province, he added.
Shah thanked Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for his support in launching the rescue service with technical help from Punjab.
Health Minister Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho, while addressing the ceremony, said 85 ambulances were already in use in Thatta, Sajawal and Karachi while the 50 new ones being added to the fleet would have advanced trauma, cardiac and obstetric life support facilities.
The ambulances would have drivers and paramedics who would both be trained, she added.
“Aside from the ambulance services, there will also be rapid response centres from Mirpur Mathelo to Gambat, Moro, Hyderabad, Nooriabad and Malir in Karachi. These rapid response centres will be satellites of the Shaheed Benazirabad Trauma Centre. There will also be a rescue centre every 50 kilometres along the highway so as to respond as quickly as possible to any roadside emergencies,” she said.
Separately, the chief minister and World Bank Country Director Najy Benhassine along with their respective teams discussed cooperation in various uplift schemes in the province and agreed to remove bottlenecks, if any, so that they could be completed in the larger interest of the people of the province.
The CM was assisted by provincial ministers Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho, Manzoor Wassan, Mukesh Chalwa, Imtiaz Shaikh, Jam Khan Shoro, Murtaza Wahab, Rasool Bux Chandio, Chief Secretary Sohail Rajput and P&D Chairman Hassan Naqvi.
Speaking on the occasion, the chief minister said that the World Bank is financing the Yellow Line project under the Karachi Mobility project. The chief minister said that the 21-km Yellow Line is one of the important corridors of the city.
It was agreed that a full-fledged project director would be appointed along with procurement and contract management specialists within a month. After discussions, both the parties agreed that the provincial government would prepare documents for package-4 [design of the track from Jam Sadiq Bridge to Numaish/Kashmir Road Intersection] so that bids for the package could be invited by July 2022. The chief minister said that the design of the package-4 was in full swing.
Regarding the $40 million Karachi Water and Sewerage Services Improvement Project (KWSSIP), the chief minister told the delegation that a feasibility study had been completed. He added that a detailed engineering design and tender documents would be completed by July 15, 2022.
Moreover, the chief minister said that the task to collect property tax had already been transferred to local bodies but they have capacity issues. After thorough discussion, it was agreed that the property tax collection staff would be attached with local bodies. Regarding the World Bank-funded Sindh Barrages Improvement Project (SBIP), it was shared that $78.5 million have been released to finance the ongoing work at Guddu Barrage.
Irrigation Minister Jam Khan Shoro briefed the World Bank delegation about the work in progress and other issues.