A four-year-old boy accompanied his father to an auto rickshaw workshop at Police stop, Quaid-e-Azam Industrial Estate. While the father, a rickshaw driver, and the mechanic were busy in the business, the child escaped their attention and ran towards the alluring green belt that runs all along the Quaid-e-Azam Industrial Estate, laden with trees on both ends.
The trees along the main road are blooming with yellow and red flowers while the tree line on the rear end along the industries are full of green leaves. The trees are so dense that they hide everything from view beyond. The child was out of sight, could run for two kilometres at a stretch. Yes, it is that long from Pindi Stop from where the unfortunate boy had come. Along the thick dark green leafy trees ran open manholes. People who do business at the Police stop say there were at least 15 such manholes. A motorcycle rickshaw driver who had parked his rickshaw along the park, says for sure they were all open since ever.
The child fell into the first manhole from here while he was running around.
The father found out immediately. 1122 was informed but no one could save the child. His body was taken out from a drain that runs at a short distance from the green belt by 1122 rescuer who dared to dive into the drain to find the child. He reportedly was admitted to a hospital after that as the industrial effluent was toxic.
The manholes in the greenbelt have now been covered after the child’s death caught everybody’s attention. All greenbelts, footpaths and streets need to be checked for open manholes so that such a tragedy isn’t repeated.
There is this issue of theft of manhole covers. It became so big an issue at one time that it was advertised in newspapers that anyone reporting about manhole cover thief would be rewarded. Then some round manhole covers were replaced with square ones. That required more work than just placing covers but we haven’t heard or read about thieves being caught.
Water and Sanitation Authority comes under fire here. They are responsible for ensuring that the manholes remain covered. There is even a Dhakna Committee to ensure that the lids remain intact on manholes.
Wasa job apart, let’s do our bit. Can’t people of an area that find a manhole uncovered, report to Wasa and push the department to put a lid on the hole. As responsible citizens we ought to.
At organisational level nobody is ready to take responsibility in case of a casualty. A newborn went missing from gynae emergency ward of Ganga Ram hospital ten days back and the hospital administration absolved itself of the responsibility for the child’s security, saying, “Once we hand over the baby to the family, our responsibility ends.” But they choose to ignore that the baby’s attendant was sent by the hospital staff to fetch something from the pharmacy. A mother who is just out of the labour room may not be in a position to take care of the baby. The loss is of the parents and the unfortunate child. We need to make better systems in hospitals to ensure security.
We have come across a number of worrying news about children in the last ten days. Two lady health workers on duty to administer polio drops to children were attacked in Gujranwala — the most Talibanised city of Punjab. Fearing for their lives female teachers have got exemption from this duty in Rawalpindi and are putting up resistance against such duty in Dera Ismail Khan. It’s children who are at risk. Despite strict laws in place many children fail to get polio drops because there are parents who don’t believe in its efficacy even in this day and age.
Children are the most vulnerable section of a society and need our attention. We all need to do our bit.