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August 25, 2019

Authorities trying to deal with rain aftermath: CM


August 25, 2019

The downpour of 200 millimetres was bound to create serious problems in the city; however, all the authorities were working hard to mitigate the adverse effects of heavy rain.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said this on Saturday as he spoke to the media after attending along with the governor the concluding ceremony of the three-day Urs of Hazrat Abdullah Shah Ghazi.

The ministers, mayor, chairmen of the district municipal corporations (DMCs), the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) and other civic agencies were trying their best to address the rain-related problems of the city, the CM said. Responding to a question, he explained he had held a major meeting on Friday with representatives of the local bodies, including Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar, the DMCs’ chairmen, officials of cantonment boards, the DHA administrator, KWSB managing director and the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board director general.

He informed media persons that in Friday’s meeting, a detailed discussion was done on the disposal of rainwater, improvement of sewerage system and disposal of filth and garbage.

He added that in 2013, around 4,000 tons of garbage had been generated in the city, which had reached to 16,000 in 2018-19.

“The population of the city has increased many times and the arrangements for disposal of wastewater have not been improved accordingly. When all the roads were inundated, the water board's people opened covers of manholes to dispose of rainwater,” he said, adding that the decision was taken as an emergency measure but the rainwater also carried trash into sewerage lines through manholes.

The drainage system got choked and the gutters started overflowing, he said. “We along with the local bodies are working to improve our sewerage system,” he said.

To another question, the CM replied that flies and mosquitoes had increased after heavy rains and the matter had been discussed in the meeting on Friday. He said the mayor has provided fumigation machines to the DMCs to deal with the problem.

Friday’s meeting

During the meeting on Friday, the CM had set a 48-hour deadline to all the local bodies and civic agencies to drain water out of each and every street of the city.

He said clearing water from the streets was the first important task that had to be done before Muharram processions. The second task would be to improve the drainage system of the city and the third would be improving the condition of roads and places where Majalis and processions were to be held during Muharram.

It was pointed out at the meeting that various agencies and officials made efforts to provide relief to the people of Karachi during and after heavy rains but due to lack of coordination, many tasks were either undertaken by multiple authorities or left unattended on the assumption that someone else would do them.

To this, the CM directed the local government minister to hold coordination meetings fortnightly so that those responsible for addressing civic issues, including the mayor, the District Municipal Corporations’ (DMCs) chairmen, and representatives of the cantonment boards, the Sindh Building Control Authority, the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board (SSWMB) and other bodies, could raise the issues of their respective organisations and resolve them in a coordinated way.

The CM said he would personally visit the city during the following 48 hours to check various problems the people were facing in various areas.

The DMCs chairmen pointed out that they were dealing with the shortage of funds as they were even not able to pay the salaries and pensions. To this, the CM said the provincial government had also been facing a financial crunch due to the shortfall in the federal revenue transfers.

“Despite serious criticism I have tried my best to provide funds to the local bodies,” he said, adding that the local bodies would have to generate their own resources and reduce non-development expenditures. He, however, assured that he would provide more funds to the local bodies.

Most of the participants criticised the performance of the SSWMB, saying that it had no staff of its own and had borrowed officers from other departments. The CM said the board must hire professionals from the market for better performance.

Murad directed the local government minister to improve the performance of the SSWMB, or else he would return the responsibility of door-to-door collection of trash and its disposal back to the DMCs. “SSWMB has to improve its performance, otherwise, I may be hard and harsh in my decisions,” he said.

It was pointed out at the meeting that the DMCs had no designated garbage transfer stations (GTS). The CM directed the DMCs’ chairmen and the deputy commissioner to identify land in every district so that GTSs could be established there as the dumping the garbage in the open might cause an outbreak of epidemics.

The CM directed Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar and the DMCs to start fumigation in the city, to which the mayor said he had provided 48 vehicles to the DMCs for fumigation. “I have no funds for the purchase of medicine, even then I arranged it and provided it to the local bodies,” he said.

Akhtar told the meeting that the existing drainage system in the city was not able to meet the requirements of the population, due to which all the gutters were gushing out sewage on the roads. The CM told the mayor that he would soon hold another meeting with him, the DMCs’ chairmen, and officials of the cantonment boards and the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) to work out a detailed plan for the upgrade of the sewerage system. “I know this city needs a new and modern drainage system,” he remarked.

The mayor said the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s (KMC) hospitals were facing a shortage of doctors and technical staff. Senior doctors and technical staff at the hospitals had retired in a large number during the last six years, he said and lamented that no new appointments had been made against the vacant posts.

Akhtar added that he had issued an advertisement in that regard which was cancelled by the provincial government, to which the CM clarified that he had not cancelled the advertisement but it was withdrawn due to an order of the Sindh High Court which had given directives for NTS tests for grade one to 14. “We are going for a review of the order,” he said and expressed his hope that the issue would be resolved.

The CM told the mayor that he would hold a separate meeting with him within a week so that all the issues of the KMC could be resolved.

Adviser to the CM on Law Murtaza Wahab said most of the areas which remained inundated for long after heavy rains belonged to the cantonment boards but the people kept accusing the provincial government of not performing.