Hafeez Centre inferno in Lahore - nearly 350 shops gutted

 Lessons not learnt from past fire incidents

Nearly 350 shops and more than 150 godown housing laptops, mobiles phones, accessories worth billions of rupees were gutted in a huge fire erupted at Hafeez Centre Lahore. Emergency teams rescued at least 25 persons in their operation. No loss of life was reported.

The shopkeepers of Hafeez Centre in Lahore are weeping over the loss of billions as the flames have finally been put out after hours of the inferno raging through the plaza.

Rescue officials said on Monday that fire has been put on and now the cooling process is underway. Meanwhile, the shopkeepers protested against the Punjab government when their officials arrived on the scene.

According to the estimates, Rs2.5-3 billion worth of electronics had been lost in the fire. The president of the centre said that each shop suffered a loss of at least Rs 20 million.

“There are big and small shopkeepers on each floor where the fire incident occurred. Out of which almost 100 shopkeepers had large businesses and 150 to 200 were operating small businesses with small shops”, he said, adding that details of the loss will be disclosed when each shopkeeper will calculate and submit claims.

According to police officials, the fire department was called into around 6 am after a fire started on the second floor of the plaza, where mobile and laptop stores were located. It soon spread up to the fourth floor.

“The cause of the fire at Hafeez Centre will be ascertained. All the facts of the fire incident will be made public. The loss of traders is heartbreaking and I have instructed to estimate damages. We will review the losses of the traders and take steps to rectify the situation,” Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar had said.

At least 25 fire tenders of Rescue 1122, Pakistan Navy, Rangers, City District Government and Lahore police participated in the rescue operation. There are around 1000 shops and godowns in the five storey building houses mobile phones, computers, laptops, UPSs and other electronic accessories shops.

This inferno once again exposed the non-implementation of building laws. no lesson really has been learnt from previous fire incidents. the authorities wait for a disaster to happen before taking action. If a survey of plazas and markets in Lahore conducted to find out the facilities like emergency exits,modern water sprinkling system and fire extinguish equipments- the findings will be shocking. There are hardly few markets and plazas constructed following the building laws and rules. 

Every fire incident in Karachi, Lahore and across the country tells us that we are not following the relevant laws and rules. Unfortunately, those responsible to implement these laws and rules are more interested in minting money from builders and owners. They silently watched the buildings sprung up in violation of rules, regulations and laws. This approach needs to be changed.  

It is being estimated that at least 40 per cent of the shops situated largely on second, third and fourth floor were completely damaged. Additionally, 20 per cent of shops are said to be partially damaged.

The Punjab Emergency Service (Rescue 1122) said that they received the fire call at 6.11am. When the rescuers reached the spot, it was a completely developed fire. The responding rescue teams called for the backup. A total of 25 fire vehicles, three special vehicles and over 70 rescuers participated in the operation. A Rescue 1122 spokesperson, Farooq Ahmad, said that the fire turned into huge fire because the plaza was filled with highly inflammable material.

 Besides, the building did not have the firefighting system installed in it. The building lacks the emergency and firefighting equipment.    

President of Anjuman-e-Tajran Hafeez Center Malik Kaleem talking to the media said that almost 100 shops suffered around Rs 20 to Rs25 million inventory loss each while 150 to 200 suffered Rs 1.5 to Rs 3 million loss each. “There are big and small shopkeepers on each floor where the fire incident occurred. Out of which, almost 100 shopkeepers had large businesses and 150 to 200 had small business with small shops”, he said, adding that the loss was accordingly. Further, details of the loss will come when each shopkeeper will calculate and submit claims.

Malik Kaleem alleged that rescue team reached the site late. However, it worked tirelessly to control the fire. But then the water finished, he added.

The LCCI office-bearers demanded the government compensate the traders. They said that they stood by the traders of Hafeez Centre and would raise their voice at every forum and would strongly demand the government compensate their losses. He said that Hafeez Center is an important and big commercial center of Lahore in which small and big traders do businesses, it is impossible to recover from the damage caused by this fire. They also urged the government to formulate a strategy to determine the cause of the fire as soon as possible.

                                                               Rukhsana Manzoor Deputy Editor                    



1 comment:

  1. Sir, Since the birth of pakistan, Ruling class never learned lesson


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