–All constables being provided with rations and transport allowance in salaries, says Punjab IGP
LAHORE: Philanthropists have started providing food to the provincial police force stationed on check posts as the police department does not have a budget to provide them with meals and transport, Pakistan Today learnt on Wednesday.
It may be noted here that as many as 53,000 policemen are on duty at different check posts which have been established to control the movement of people during the lockdown.
A policeman while speaking to this scribe on the condition of anonymity said, “During these days, there is no hotel or restaurant open in the city. We need at least two meals per day as we are performing duty in 12 hours long shifts”.
“We are the first defence line of coronavirus. We deal with the people who come out before anyone. Thank God there are people who are providing us with donation food. But even they can’t provide us with clean water facility, and we are forced to purchase water. We urge the higher-ups of our department and the government to give this issue some attention,” he said added.
Similarly, another policeman while seeking anonymity said that the government should provide for their transport or come up with a policy in this regard.
“There are no transport options these days. Sometimes, we take a lift from people who drop us to our duty points but most days we have to take two or three lifts to reach our destiny. We need a transport policy on an emergency basis so that we don’t have to beg for rides from strangers,” he added.
Speaking to Pakistan Today, Additional Inspector General Police (IGP) Inam Ghani said, “We have set up 2,000 check post across Punjab and more than 200 only in Lahore. We are not giving policemen on checkpoints hot meals because we are giving them ration and transport allowances in their salaries”.
He explained that in some cases, where the duration of duty is long, the police department or government issue funds to provide food. Providing prepared food is technically not possible because the numbers of constables on duty across Punjab is 163,000. One meal costs Rs100 per head which means the budget for a one-time meal for one day will Rs1.6 million and when multiplying it to 365 days then it will become a huge amount.
The IGP also noted that policemen living in police lines have the facility of a mess which they can use to carry packed food with them. “Mobile canteens from different police lines are also providing the food to them,” he added.
He also denied that the shifts were as long as 12 hours. “The shifts are eight hours long after which they return to the police lines or their homes where we have already provided rations. If we withdraw their ration allowances and provide them with food, they will never be happy for it,” he said.
Talking about transport facilities, Ghani said, “Police buses only provide pick and drop services to those who live in the police lines. Those who are living in personal residence should use their own transport, like bikes, to come on duty”.