‘90 families displaced by Timber Market blaze’

Fire erupts in Karachi's timber market. — DawnNews screengrab

KARACHI: One of three committees set up by the government to assess losses caused by a huge fire in Timber Market last Sunday have identified 90 families displaced by the blaze and strongly recommended establishment of an adequate fire department in line with international standards.

The committees with prominent businessmen and senior government officials as members shared initial findings with the chief minister at a meeting chaired by him at Chief Minister House on Friday.

“One of the committees has finalised the list of displaced families which is 90 in number. The victims will get an initial amount of Rs100,000 each as already announced by the chief minister. The payment was disbursed through the deputy commissioner of district south on Friday,” said a statement issued by the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).

Siraj Kassam Teli, chairman of the Businessmen Group, led the delegation comprising Anjum Nisar, former presidents of the KCCI A.Q. Khalil and Younus Bashir, Timber Merchant Group president Aziz Haji Yaqoob, and leaders Suleman Soomro, Hanif Soomro, Hameed Bagla, Saeed Basathia and Mushtaq Walimohammad were tasked to coordinate with the fire victims, it said.

“Another committee is working with the representatives of the government, KCCI and timber merchants to finalise the list of the affected shopkeepers who will be about 180 to 200 and start work to assess their losses on the pattern of the rehabilitation plan for the victims of Boulton Market fire incident,” it said.

The committee assured the chief minister that the task would be completed within 10 days and expected the government to provide compensation as soon as possible, which the information minister had announced would take at least a month to be completed, it said.

“The third committee will have additional representatives from the Karachi Building Control Authority and the fire department and will be tasked to assess structures of the affected residential buildings and decide their fate whether they will be repaired or rebuilt anew after demolition,” said the statement.

It said the representatives of the Timber Merchant Group shared their concerns about lack of a hydrant in their area which aggravated the situation.

“It was also requested by Mr Teli that a proper fire department be established once and for all in line with international standards and if need be, the fire department should be privatised. A meeting of all stakeholders be convened as soon as possible to discuss and finalise the issue,” said the statement.

It said the chief minister expressed satisfaction over the progress thus far made by the committees and urged the government functionaries as well as ministers to ensure that the compensation was provided expeditiously to the affected shopkeepers as well as victims of the fire incident.

“The meeting was attended among others by Sindh Minister for Finance Syed Murad Ali Shah, Minister for Information Sharjeel Inam Memon, chief secretary Sajjad Saleem Hotiana, Karachi Commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui and Karachi Administrator Rauf Akhter Farooqui,” said the statement.

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