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Opinion

August 22, 2019

Karachi: Cycle of (political) rubbish

Opinion

Thu, Aug 22, 2019

Karachi is supposed to be going through the Let’s Clean Karachi process. But predictably the politicians are too busy going at each other. It is like a 24-hour media marathon of political bobble heads blaming everyone they can (thankfully the founder of the country has been spared) for the pile of filth that is Karachi.

There is no denying that cleaning a huge city is not a joke, and will take a lot of time and concerted effort. This process should be supported by a proper thought-out plan that clearly defines who will be responsible to pick, transport and dispose the rubbish that mars this beautiful city. Also the skills required of those involved to get this process in motion and keep it running, and the number of people who are needed to do the work.

For now the cleaning campaign goes something like this: the rubbish is picked up from one spot, say the drains and put in huge piles or ‘unofficial garbage dumps’ in another spot near it. This rotting mountain is left to stink the locality until someone comes along with heavy machinery (if lucky) or a group of official vested cleaners, who then divide this into smaller hills of rubbish.

Meanwhile, a large chunk of this garbage disperses onto a nearby street or road, causing a lot of commuting issues and traffic jams. If the locals are lucky, it is pushed back to its former corner or pushed around to appear smaller piles. A part of it is pushed back into the drains and sewers, and the cycle continues.

There is no doubt that the people of this city want a cleaner city; sadly no one wants to lend a hand. But everyone wants someone else to do the work. We probably want someone like our ‘domestic help’ to clean the city like they clean our houses, which is usually a slipshod job.

Clean the house (required area) and throw the garbage out on the street or nearby in an ‘unofficial garbage dump’ which is usually located at the end of the street. And although we keep chanting ‘cleanliness is half of our faith’ (safai nisf iman hai), we prefer ‘garbage out of sight, out of mind’.

When the ‘unofficial garbage dump’ begins to block the road or begins to rot stinking the whole area someone unusually torches or if lady luck desires a wayward garbage truck comes to picks up the garbage.

So, Let’s Clean Karachi should be a permanent process. But the problem right now is that the cleaning process cannot be put into place until the ‘leaders’ stop the constant cycle of (political) rubbish and actually begin to work. And since we- the political leaders, workers and followers, as well as the rest of the 16 million give or take a few million people of Karachi – are all responsible for the filth in our city, it is everyone’s responsibility to clean it.

Authorities need to divide the city into workable non-political portions. And use the funds they have as well as collect funds and donations from the residents. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to those who are giving funds to clean the city a tax holiday for a year. The money they contribute will be used for their own benefit (transparency) – that would also be a first.

So let the cleaning begin and the cycle of political rubbish end.