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July 31, 2019

Chaos in Karachi


July 31, 2019

It is hard to believe that in this day and age a mere three or four inches of rain could result in Pakistan’s largest city becoming virtually paralyzed and people dying as a result of the situation created. It seems too often that Karachi has been abandoned as a city no one takes responsibility for. Despite the claim of the provincial government that steps were being taken to prepare for what had been predicted would be a heavy monsoon, there is no evidence of such readiness. Flooded streets in several parts of the city brought traffic to a standstill and left vehicles stranded. The lack of drainage along roads is the obvious problem.

The lives of people living in a city of 20 million people has been made even worse by prolonged power outages, with power cuts lasting 20 hours or more reported from multiple areas. We would like to remind K-Electric – the company responsible for providing power to Karachi – that in many cities around the world, including those in Far East Asia where heavy rainfall is an almost daily event, life continues more or less uninterrupted and the supply of power remains intact. This is simply a matter of good maintenance, good services for citizen who pay heavy taxes and an understanding that rain is virtually inevitable in our cities at one time or the other. It may be a rare occurrence in Karachi than in other urban centres, but it is certainly not unknown.

The build-up of the monsoon in the Bay of Bengal and interlinked low pressure system was being reported for weeks. Yet even then it appears taking any kind of preventive measures to spare the suffering of people was beyond the ability of authorities. Fourteen people died in Karachi in rain-related incidents, at least eight of them due to electrocution. The water logging and clogged drainage systems that have already been seen are likely to make matters even worse if rains continue. Rain should not lead to catastrophes, especially since a few inches of rain is not a massive amount by meteorological standards. By now a way should have been found to prevent the havoc which occurs each time clouds gather over Karachi, sending its people into panic. Given the civic state of the city their reaction is understandable.

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