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Sindh’s chief minister said on Sunday that after concluding his garbage lifting campaign in Karachi, he will make it sustainable and then focus on the city’s sewerage system and the reconstruction of its broken roads.
“Today people told me that their hospitals, schools, dispensaries and roads are in poor condition, but I told them I don’t want to defocus myself from garbage lifting, and just after eight days, when the drive will end, I will focus on the reconstruction of the roads.”
CM Syed Murad Ali Shah made these remarks while talking to the media at KDA Chowrangi in North Nazimabad during his nine-hour tour of the city. Shah said he had started his campaign to clean the city on September 21, and so far more than 282,000 tonnes of garbage backlog has been cleared. “In other words, 70 per cent of the backlog has been cleared, and the remaining will be cleared by October 21.”
He said the South, East and Malir district municipal corporations (DMCs) have assigned their garbage lifting work to the Sindh Solid Waste Management Authority (SSWMA).
From there the deputy commissioners in their ongoing month-long campaign have lifted 72,000 tonnes of garbage, while during the said period the DCs have lifted 109,000 tonnes of garbage from the areas of the Korangi, Central and West DMCs where the SSWMA is not working, he added.
“This shows that the position of garbage backlog is comparatively better in the areas or DMCs where the SSWMA is engaged,” claimed the chief executive. He said the purpose of launching a month-long garbage lifting drive was to clear the areas and hand them over to the DMCs concerned to maintain them thereafter.
“I have held a meeting with Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar and also with the DMCs’ chairmen so that everyone takes ownership of the campaign,” he said. He added that Karachi belongs to everyone living here, and so it becomes the responsibility of each and every one of the residents to own this city and to keep it neat and clean.
“The mayor, the DMCs and the district council chairmen are on board, and right now Central DMC Chairman Rehan Hashmi is standing with me, which shows our commitment to one another and to the city and its people.”
Shah said he had held a six-hour meeting with all the DCs, DMC’s chairmen and SSWMA Director General Asif Ikram on Saturday. “I’m quite happy that the DMCs’ chairmen certified the garbage lifting figures given to me by the DCs.”
He thanked the DMCs’ chairmen for attended the meeting. “We had discussed making the campaign sustainable. The DMCs’ chairmen told me that they will keep their areas clean if they are given funds to repair their garbage lifting machinery.”
The CM said funds will be released to the DMCs on Tuesday to keep their tractors, refuse vehicles and other machinery in good condition so they can start lifting garbage on a daily basis.
He appreciated the Karachi Water & Sewerage Board’s (KWSB) performance, saying that during his nine-hour visit to different parts of the city, he found none of the sewers overflowing. He urged the board’s managing director, Asadullah Khan, to improve the capacity of the old areas’ sewerage system.
New framework Shah said he has directed the SSWMA DG to keep in touch with all the DMCs’ chairmen on a regular basis as well as work with them and for them.
He said that the SSWMA DG will also meet with the union committees’ chairmen once a month so that the necessary cleanliness work can be carried out on their recommendations.
The CM said that out of the 282,000 tonnes of garbage lifted from different areas of the city and dumped at temporary garbage transfer stations, the SSWMA has lifted over 18,000 tonnes and dumped it at the designated landfill site, while the remaining will also be shifted soon.
Responding to the media and his other detractors regarding their claim that the clean-up drive has failed, Shah said the media’s attitude has hurt him.
“I always take you with me to show you what is happening on the ground, but even then, instead of appreciating me, you are terming the drive a failure.” He said his political opponents have no other option but to criticise him, because they are being criticised by their own constituents over the city’s condition.
He claimed that people who do not even belong or support his party have showered him with rose petals to appreciate his efforts to clear the garbage backlog. “I’m sure you won’t show that on your channels, but you’ll air the visuals of garbage that is yet to be lifted.”
Replying to a question, the CM said he is not answerable to the federal government, but “I’m answerable to the provincial assembly members, to my party leadership and to the people of the province”.
He said the clean-up drive the Centre had launched was all hot air, adding that the federal authorities had claimed to have lifted 150,000 tonnes of garbage, but according to the weighing machines at the landfill sites, they had not transferred more than 13,000 tonnes.
To another query, Shah said Manghopir Road is in quite a critical condition and work on the project is going on at a snail’s pace. He said it is being constructed by the Sindh Infrastructure Development Company Limited (SIDCL), adding that they have already used up Rs1.4 billion of the total cost — Rs2.4 billion — but the shape of the road is yet to appear.
The CM said the progress of the Green Line Bus Rapid Transit System also being constructed by the SIDCL is very slow. He agreed to a journalist’s point that some of the roads of the city are in a bad shape, saying that they will be repaired or reconstructed soon.
“I have personally seen 12000 Road up to Dawood Chowrangi, for which my government has given funds to the Korangi Industrial Trading Estate to reconstruct it,” he said, adding that they are working on the road but the work is very slow.
He said he has also witnessed that the road in Sherpao Colony, the area which divides the Korangi and Malir districts, is in a shambles. “The road’s reconstruction and its sewerage system’s repair is an Annual Development Programme scheme. I’ll release funds for them within a month.”
In Sherpao Colony, near the Chawal Godaam area, the CM met with pushcart vendors selling fruits. They complained that the sewers have been overflowing and the road is in a dilapidated condition.
Shah showed them the overripe fruit and other trash they had thrown on the road. “If you continue to do this, the sewers will keep getting choked and flood the roads and create potholes in them,” he said, urging them to keep their areas clean.
Replying to a question, the chief executive said the route of the K-IV project was approved by the KWSB when it was being governed by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation.
“Being an engineer and a finance minister in 2014, I had raised an objection on the route and had said storm water drains are running along the route and will definitely affect the K-IV canal, but at that time my objections were considered opposition to the project.”
He said they were saying that the finance minister was reluctant to release funds, and now the National Engineering Services Pakistan had also raised the same objections. He also said he has held a detailed meeting with all the stakeholders and is keen to complete the K-IV project, adding that a commission has been constituted to make the necessary amendments in its route so that its work can be resumed.
Brushing aside the impression of differences with the Sindh police chief, the CM said the IGP is a good officer. “I have expressed serious objections over the increasing incidents of street crime.”
He said the police chief had told him that economic recession has increased street crime across the city. “Factories have downsized their staff and daily wagers have lost work, so they all have indulged in street crime to meet their families’ needs, according to him. I have urged him to pay more attention to policing.”
The chief executive’s tour of the city started at 8am in Saddar Town, where he saw trash lying on the roads at the Electronic Market despite there being dustbins. He directed the Saddar SSP to tell the shopkeepers to throw their trash into the dustbins or face the music.
Then he visited Abdullah Haroon Road, where construction material and open telephone and TV cables have defaced the area. He ordered the commissioner to get it fixed or strict action will be taken against the relevant assistant commissioners.
After that he planted a Neem Tree at the Korangi Crossing and watered it with the hope that it will grow and give shade to the passers-by and contribute towards improving the city’s pollution situation.
The Korangi Crossing area has been cleaned by clearing it of garbage, and the Korangi DC has put some benches there and planted a tree. The CM directed him to beautify the area for visitors.
He visited almost all the roads of Korangi and then drove to Cattle Colony, where the main road has been cleaned. He ordered turning the road’s centre into a green belt. During his visit to Jafar-e-Tayyar Society in Malir, he met with his party’s workers gathered there. In District West he visited different sectors of Orangi and Banaras, issuing orders for not allowing the builders to put their construction material on the roads. “If they do so, the DCs must fine them.”
In District Central, Chairman Hashmi received him and they briefed the media together. The CM said that during the last eight days of his clean-up campaign, he will tour across the city to ensure that the remaining trash backlog is cleared, with the hope that people will cooperate with him.
Shah was accompanied by Information Minister Saeed Ghani, environment adviser Barrister Murtaza Wahab, Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani, LG Secretary Roshan Shaikh and the KWSB chief.