Out with the old and in with the new seems to be the order of the day in Lahore as digital displays will now be serving as attractions for commuters rather than the age-old advertising hoardings. Officials hope these new digital screens will give areas of Lahore a Times Square-esque look.
On Saturday, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif called for drafting a unified policy for placing billboards and hoardings across the province while presiding over a meeting.
The CM said safety standards for placing billboards and hoardings should be implemented while action would be taken in case of any violations. The size of billboards and hoardings would be uniform and the selection of site would not be at the buyer’s discretion.
Digital billboards were recently installed on MM Alam Road between Hussain Chowk and Mini Market. They stand as a testimony to the transition between conventional and modern times.
The Parks and Horticulture Authority said the experiment was successful and it planned to install these streamers on three other busy roads of the city. The authority has also opened its doors to private contractors for the installation of digital screens in markets of the city.
According to a PHA official, the authority tried shifting to digital marketing by installing five digital billboards in Lahore. Two of them were installed on Canal Road near the Mall Road junction, whereas as many were put at the First Fountain and Sadiq Trade Centre jurisdiction near the median of Main Market.
Later, these screens were removed from the roads by PHA itself as they were considered a distraction and traffic police also voiced concerns.
PHA Marketing Director Sohail Ahmed said they were only installing digital streamers on roads with slow-moving traffic and the streamers’ light would be kept dim so they did not cause any sort of traffic hindrance.
Sohail said the digital streamers, installed in September last year, had proven successful. Plans are under way to install more devices on Noor Jahan Road in Gulberg, Allama Iqbal Town in Main Boulevard and Queen’s Road. Bids from private contractors will soon be invited.
He said if there was a positive response, officials would consider more roads. The marketer can also install large digital billboards for advertising.
Sohail said the only precondition was that it should not face any road to avoid traffic distractions.
This would not only increase revenue for the PHA, but also provide a new avenue for marketing of products. He added busy streets would benefit from a modern look without destroying the landscape of the city.
At the meeting, CM Shehbaz said a unified policy would be devised for billboards and hoardings all over the province.
On the district level, the mayor and zila Council chairmen will be the head of a committee to implement this policy. Shehbaz ordered the draft law of billboards and hoardings be given the final shape after a review.
Punjab ministers Rana Sanaullah, Manshaullah Butt, Syed Haroon and Sultan Bukhari as well as the secretaries for law, local government, public prosecution, housing and DGs of LDA and PHA attended the meeting.
According to a government official, Shehbaz said one of the initiatives taken by the PHA in Lahore was to ban billboards from greenbelts and introduce regulation for façade-based billboards those atop rooftops of buildings.