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Six die as first spell of monsoon rains lays bare poor preparations by Sindh, local govts


July 7, 2020

The monsoon of 2020 in Karachi proved no different than the last year as with the first rain spell of the year in the city on Monday afternoon, its civic infrastructure collapsed and at least six people lost their lives with dozens injured in rain-related incidents.

The first monsoon shower lashed Karachi as strong winds and mild rain uprooted trees and caused flooding on roads. Hours-long power outages also occurred in many areas of the city.

A moderate spell

“Karachi received first proper monsoon showers on Monday afternoon under the influence of a powerful low pressure area [rain-causing system] whose core is still away from the city. The low pressure area is currently centered at Arabian Sea and adjoining Indian state of Gujrat in the South-Southeast of Karachi but it would cause a few more spells of rain in Karachi from Monday night to Wednesday,” Sardar Sarfraz, the chief meteorological officer (CMO) of the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), told The News.

A maximum of 43 millimetres (mm) of rain was recorded in Saddar, he said. It was followed by 22mm in Nazimabad, 26mm at the PAF Masroor Base, 12mm at the PAF Faisal Base, 10mm at MOS Karachi and 8.8mm at the Karachi International Airport. Some areas of the city only received passing showers while others such as Keamari and Gulshan-e-Hadeed witnessed no rainfall.

“Karachi is expected to get some more showers through this system and the rain may generate more urban flooding life situations in various areas of the city. We are expecting 20 per cent more rainfall in Sindh during the current monsoon so people should prepare themselves both physically and mentally for the rainy days,” the PMD official added.

Strong winds and dust-storm accompanied the rain on Monday which uprooted trees in many areas. The wind caused several walls to collapse and roofs to cave in.

Officials at the PMD said the speed of wind was recorded between 80 and 110 kilometres per hour at the Faisal and Masroor bases.


At least six people, including two children, lost their lives in rain-related mishaps that occurred in different areas of the city, police and rescue officials said.

According to the Ibrahim Hyderi police, three people were severely injured when the roof of their house collapsed in Baloch Goth. The police and rescuers reached the property and took them out from under the rubble. They were shifted to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre where all of them succumbed to their injuries.

They were identified as 60-year-old Khadim Hussain, son of Amir Buksh, Shabbir, 55, and Babar, 24. Police said the deceased were labourers and hailed from Bahawalpur and Muzaffargarh.

Separately, a minor boy died from electrocution in Orangi Town’s Mominabad area. The body was taken to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital where he was identified as seven-year-old Muhammad Riaz.

In another incident, a three-year-old girl, Esha, daughter of Munawar Ali, died after a wall of her house collapsed on her in the Malir Shamsi Society within the limits of the al-Falah police station.

A woman lost her life and her daughter was injured when a wall of their house collapsed on them in Angara Goth within the limits of the the Liaquatabad police station. The victims were taken to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital. The deceased was identified as Tajan Bibi, 60, wife of Abdur Razzak.

Power outages

As usual, many areas of Karachi faced hours-long power outages as the first drop of rain fell in the afternoon. Some of the areas, including Defence Phase II, were still without power

till the filing of this report at night.

Residents of Gulistan-e-Jauhar, University Road, Nazimabad, Liaquatabad, Jamshed Road, Malir, Landhi, Korangi and Old City areas complained of hours-long power power outages after PMTs tripped and electricity wires were broken due to the rain and wind. Even the electricity poles were uprooted due to strong winds at some places.

No drainage

If anything has been done for the solution of the persisting issue of accumulated water on roads and streets in Karachi after rains, it has been issuing statements and playing politics.

Last year, Federal Maritime Affairs Minister Ali Haider Zaidi assured the people of Karachi that the storm water drains across the city would be cleaned before the next rainfall. His campaign, which was assisted by the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO), was launched in the first week of August.

Under Zaidi’s initiative, five major drains of Karachi — Gujjar Nullah, Korangi Nullah, Orangi Nullah, Mehmoodabad Nullah and City Railway Station Nullah — were identified and cleaned. Six minor drains — Petrol Pump Nullah, Mujahid Colony Nullah, Nehr-e-Khayyam, Azam Basti Nullah, Malir City Nullah and Peerabad Nullah, were also cleaned in the federal minister’s campaign.

Sadly, the provincial government was not taken on board and no measures was implemented to ensure that the drains remained clean until the next monsoon season, due to which filth and garbage again made their ways to the drains and the cleaning exercise for which massive donation had been collected went in vain.

Meanwhile, the elected City Council of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) under Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar and the district municipal corporations (DMCs) of the city kept asking for powers and funds from the provincial government led by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) to no avail.

Resultantly, when it rained on Monday evening, it wreaked havoc in the city as all the big and small nullahs overflowed. Massive traffic jams were witnessed on arteries of the city and power outages reported in many areas.

The mayor and DMC chairmen belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM) had already issued many statements prior to the rainfall regarding the possible urban flooding in the monsoon season.

Traffic woes

Massive traffic jams were witnessed at Nagan Chowrangi where rainwater could not be drained. Nagan Chowrangi has been one of the places requiring a proper rainwater drainage mechanism for over a decade.

Water also occupied Tariq Road causing snarl-ups for hours. Similarly, at the Metropole Hotel, II Chundrigar Road and adjoining areas, the traffic was at standstill for hours and the government machinery was nowhere in sight until 5pm.

District Korangi’s industrial area and the PECHS area in District East were also badly affected after the rainfall. The Shaheed-e-Millat Expressway was completely inundated after the rain.

Mayor’s directives

The mayor issued routine statements after the rain and imposed an emergency, asking all the departments concerned to remain alert to cope with any untoward situation.

He asked the municipal services, fire brigade and departments of health, parks and engineering to remain alert. He also directed the management of hospitals under the administrative control of the KMC to keep their staff on their toes to deal with any unpleasant situation.

He directed the heads of different hospitals to make arrangements for rain emergency and ensure the presence of doctors and paramedics around the clock. The leaves of the officials and staff concerned were also cancelled.

Akhtar said the hospitals should be alert for the possible outbreak of dengue, naegleria, chikungunya, typhoid, diarrhoea and other waterborne diseases. The mayor also asked the citizens to avoid going out unnecessary and inform civic institutions in case of any emergency. "The people should also adopt precautionary measures as thunderstorm has been predicted in the city. The people should avoid standing beneath the trees, big hoarding boards and electric poles," he said.

He also asked the people not to open manholes for the drainage of rainwater as it may cause loss of human lives. "The people should drive carefully during rains and bikers should wear helmets," he added.

The mayor called for ensuring coordination for rapid action in case of any emergency. "Heavy machinery, pumping stations and staffers should be available round the clock for water drainage and fixing of choking points," said Akhtar.

He also stressed the need for creating awareness regarding keeping oneself and others, especially children, away from the electric poles to save humans lives.

Meanwhile, Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani also alerted the local government departments of the city and directed all the deputy commissioners to make rounds of their areas and monitor the situation.

KWSB’s rhetoric

The Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) resorted to issue only statements. It lamented how its manholes were uncapped by the citizens for the drainage of the rainwater.

The KWSB said that on the Liaquatabad Underpass, a 42-inch-diameter pipe was uncapped. The uncapping of manholes could be very dangerous for human lives, the board warned.

Gutter fountains emerged in one of the most affluent areas of the city, Defence Housing Authority (DHA) after the rainfall as the drains started overflowing and videos of black sewage gushing out of manholes in a fountain-like manner started making rounds on social media.

The Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) initiated work on cleaning drains in its jurisdiction on Monday when it was already to rain. In Saba Commercial, DHA Phase-IV, Khayaban-e-Sehar and Sea View, the CBC’s municipal department tried to clear the drains.