Authorities put lives at stake by not adopting scientific approach

KARACHI: The threat to people’s lives still persists on the roads of metropolis not because of the violence but due to the non-scientific installation of billboards and signboards. The authorities concerned are pointlessly refraining from a scientific solution, which could help billboards, and signboards sustain gusty winds eventually preventing them from falling, Daily Times has learnt.The City District Government Karachi (CDGK) Local Taxes (LT) had directed all stakeholders to make holes in the iron sheets of billboard and signboard panels to allow gusty winds pass through them hence preventing the high-rise heavy billboards and hoardings from a knockdown.However, no such directives have been issued to the stakeholders doing business within the limits of cantonment boards. The advertisers have also been directed to place thermopile in order to cover the holes; in case the winds blows rough, these thermopile covers would burst into pieces rather than bringing the whole steel structure down and cause lethal damages to the people in the vicinity.Technical experts say that the CDGK engineers, who have not studied the aerodynamics, calculated a wrong policy at a wrong time. It is not only the monsoon season when gusty winds could be expected but also the escalating global warming around the world especially in sub-continent could provoke sea or wind storm any time.

They say that thermopile covering would not be strong enough to repulse the wind pressure and thus the iron sheets would lose the welded joints from the main panel and cause more damage if dropped.It is pertinent to mention here that last monsoon, on June 23, 2007, dozens of high-rise steel billboards had bowed down killing many passer-bys. The majority of those incidents had occurred within the limits of cantonment boards.A CDGK official said that making holes in the front iron sheets is not a proper solution because the wind never passes away in a right direct direction but swirls like a whirlpool during the passage. These holes could be unsafe and would create more problems.

“Nowadays, corporate sector has adopted a new trend of outdoor advertising as they have started mobile advertising that patrols on streets. This is quite safe and should be encouraged and promoted,” he suggested.The CDGK LT district officer had chaired a meeting with outdoor advertisers on May 30, 2008 in which he served a notice regarding safety measures for high-rise billboards and signboards, however, no further meetings were held to review the same.The CDGK had announced last year that rooftop installation of billboards and hoardings would not be allowed after heavy human casualties during last monsoon.

Whereas, the installation of rooftop billboards still persists in the city. The Faisal Cantonment Board has recently sought permission for the rooftop installation of heavy billboards and signboards.The electric supply to billboards and signboards in CDGK and cantonment areas has been banned in pursuance to the Water and Power Development Authority to minimise the load shedding in city.The CDGK has 125 men who look for the billboard business whereas there is only a man at each cantonment board to run the entire business from issuing licenses to installation and surveys. The CDGK has bylaws approved by the city council but the cantonment boards lack such laws. – Dailytimes