PPF Report on impact of floods on media professionals and organisations in Jacobabad District
Karachi: Over 150 media persons representing print and electronic media were displaced during current floods in Jacobabad district where district headquarter town Jacobabad and its two Taluka headquarter towns Thul and Garhi Khairo are still marooned by the flood water.
The displaced journalists also include some staff members of FM105 radio, whose transmission is suspended since a month due to floods.
Majority of the journalists had shifted to other towns of Sindh while some chose to stay at marooned towns to perform professional duties. They, however, had also shifted the families to other towns.
The heavy rains and floodwater have caused damage to some of the journalists? houses.
In Jacobabad, while the broadcast of lone radio station FM105 remain suspended, hardly 15 out of 100 journalists, representing print and electronic media, are performing duties in very tough conditions with meagre eatables, no petrol and disrupted supply of electricity in Jacobabad, district headquarter town in northwest of Sindh province, bordering Balochistan province, which was marooned by floodwater of River Indus a month back.
When the floodwater started heading towards Jacobabad, the journalists were also advised by the District Coordination Officer, like other inhabitants, to leave the town and take refuge at safer places along with their families, told Nawaz Solangi, president of Jacobabad Press Club.
Only ten journalists chose to stay and perform professional duties in marooned town. Later, five other journalists dared to return and joined their colleagues, told the journalists during a survey conducted by Pakistan Press Foundation about the conditions the media persons have been working in and the losses and damages the heavy rains and floods have caused to radio stations, press clubs and other media organizations in Sindh and other parts of country.
All the road and railway links are destroyed. Shops and petrol pumps are closed and since there is no fuel, there is no transport in the town. We have to go by foot to cover the flood situation, they told adding that for some days after the deluge, the internet and cell phone system had also paralyzed.
The journalists had to walk for several kilometers in deep water along with heavy cameras and other equipment for the coverage of submerged nearby villages. These journalists also coordinated between the administration and the villagers to evacuate them and provide them with relief.
In Jacobabad, the floods damaged houses of two journalists including the house of Mr. Hakim Eri of Channel 5 TV and the walls of Mr. Zahid Mangrio of PTV collapsed.
The FM105 radio of Jacobabad had 10 staff members who also left the town leaving behind station manager Deedar Bhatti. According to him, the radio could have played important role in rescue and relief operation being an effective mode of communication but floods and power supply suspension made us to stop the broadcast. Moreover, the journalists had no training to perform in natural disasters like the current one, therefore they fled along with other panicked citizens.
In Thul town of Jacobabad, which too is marooned and cut off to other parts of Sindh, the media persons, 22 in all, besides performing professional duties, joined the other citizens to make cuts in bypass for saving the town from inundation. However, at later stage, many of them left the town in boats leaving behind seven colleagues to fight with floods.
They worked as social workers besides performing professional duties. During coverage of inundated villages, they contacted the administration and army officials to indicate the villages and people needing the help.
The journalists had formed a group consisting of 30 people, social workers among them, to help the marooned villagers. During this mission, they recovered 40 decomposed bodies of villagers who drowned in floodwater and handed over to Rangers through boats for burial.
These media persons had to pass nights at the trees as it was very difficult to return from flooded areas after sunset.
They journalists told that the telephone and other communication system still remains disrupted.
The house of a journalist Younis Channa, two rooms of the house of journalist Ghulam Rasool and walls of houses of journalists Ramazan Channa and Akbar Mari collapsed in floods.
Taking benefit of the situation, the thieves took away a TV set, stabilizer and a refrigerator from the Thul press club.
Garhi Khairo, the third Tehsil headquarter town, too gives a desert look, as people of this town had also took refuge in other areas of province. The local journalists too shifted to other places along with families. A journalist, Shahzad Bhatti, representing a Sindhi language daily Ibrat of Hyderabad, who could be contacted on cell phone, told that town is under 5 to 6 feet water. We had 22 newsmen here but have lost contact with them because of no communication system.
Source: Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)