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April 15, 2019

Mayor not too hopeful about Karachi package


April 15, 2019

The development package worth Rs162 billion for Karachi that was announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan during his recent visit to the city will not yield any positive result until the Sindh government was taken on board.

Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar said this while speaking to The News at his office. He was of the view that as all the agencies and institutions that had the authority to undertake development projects in the city were under the Sindh government, it was imperative that the provincial government was on board so that the development package could materialise.

The mayor lauded the federal government for allocating a hefty amount for the city; however, he said how the package would be implemented was still to be answered. He lamented that injustice had been meted out to Karachi since the last 50 years though the city always earned the highest revenue for the country. No one is ready to own Karachi, he said, adding that right now the development package for the city appeared to be only a verbal assurance and that he was not seeing its implementation anytime soon.

“They want to take away all revenue from Karachi but when the city needs funds for development, they turn their back on the city,” Akhtar remarked. Terming Karachi a hen that laid golden eggs, the mayor said that he had been made responsible for protecting the hen, whereas someone else always took away its golden eggs.

Commenting on the governor’s claims that the federal projects in the city will be completed soon, he said the agencies tasked with carrying out development work would take orders from the Sindh government and since the governor would have no powers over them, he would not be able to direct them to carry out or expedite work.

According to the mayor, the biggest issues of Karachi were transport, sewerage, water shortage and unannounced load-shedding that had made lives of the residents miserable. The mayor also termed environmental pollution a major issue of the city that needed to be addressed on an emergency basis.

Not a single public transport bus has been inducted by the Sindh government since the last 10 years, Akhtar said, lamenting that poor citizens of Karachi had to travel on the roofs of mini-buses due to lack of proper transport facilities in the city.

Blaming the provincial government for the transport issues of Karachi, the mayor said it was only the Sindh government that could have brought a public transport system to the city. He went on to further criticise the Pakistan Peoples Party-led provincial government, saying that it was also responsible for the unresolved water and sewerage issues of the city as water and sewerage were exclusively its domain.

The mayor recalled that many prime ministers of previous federal governments had also announced mega projects for the city but they could not keep their promises and those projects were not implemented.

Akhtar was of the view that the dilapidated sewerage system in Karachi needed a complete renovation but successive governments did not take any action on the serious issue. He also demanded that the Sindh government provide the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation its due share from the Octroi Zila tax (OZT). When asked whether the Karachi Circular Railway was included in the federal government’s development package, the mayor replied in the negative, saying that it had been included in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

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