ISLAMABAD: Twenty-four-year-old Adnan Riaz discards his gloves, goes straight to the washroom, takes bath, changes dress and is careful to avoid touching anything around him to least expose his parents and siblings to the novel coronavirus.
He has been exercising these precautions since he joined Prime Minister’s Corona Tiger Force in March this year as a leader of Deputy Commissioner Task Force, Islamabad.
The motivated young man remains available 24/7. According to him, he takes a few minutes to reach the location of action whenever the ICT administration makes a call of action in his designated zone.
They don’t have any designated office [so far], so most of their coordination happens through WhatsApp groups, Riaz says.
He told Naya Daur that all members of the force manage their traveling, meal and other related expenses from their pockets as the government facilitation is [so far] restricted to face-masks, gloves and sanitisers.
He adds that they were told that they will work without any financial compensation for the first three months and, after that, the government will start paying them Rs 300 per day.
On average, a member needs an estimated Rs 25,000 to 30,000 per month to meet the expenses for his traveling, meal, and other activities. However, nothing has been paid to them so far for the money they spent from their pockets during the fieldwork.
A Tiger Force member has nothing on himself to endorse his identification, except for a jacket signed as with the name of the force, he deplores.
Riaz says he does not get exhausted even after working for 12 hours straight as a volunteer to raise awareness among the people suffering a strict lockdown, but added that the lack of official proof and powers to take action against the violators sometimes comes as a discouragement to him.
In early days, when they made visits to markets and delivered safety guidelines, people questioned their credibility and laughed at them, Qurat-ul-Ain, one of the leaders of the force in Islamabad, said.
They discussed the matter with the ICT administration, and now they visit markets with assistant commissioners to leave a better impact of their visit to the people.
No Powers to Take Action
Riaz says that wherever they witness violation of the SOPs, they report them at the deputy commissioner’s office.
The district administration, after making assessment of the violation with the help of pictures and videos that they share, takes action against the violators.
Regarding their job responsibilities, another member, requesting not to be named, said their work is no more than a facilitator as they have no official authority to take decisions in any matter.
The member revealed they are not allowed to enter the areas experiencing lockdown, their job is to provide meals, thrice each day to the officials on duty. If they need to visit an area under the lockdown, they have to take a prior permission.
There are an estimated 1,400 active members of the Tiger Force in Islamabad. According to the members, only around 100 of the members have cards of the force
Muhammad Saleh, staff member SAPM Usman Dar, Tiger Force is a volunteer force comprising educated and skilled individuals belonging to different professions and their work is to facilitate local administrations during the pandemic.
They are not a paid force and it’s the district government’s responsibility to facilitate them during their activities, he made it clear. The capabilities of Tiger Force will be utilised in future disasters and other natural calamities as well, he added.