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August 7, 2020

Misery revisits Karachiites as rain strikes city again


August 7, 2020

The moderate-to-heavy rain in different parts of the city on Thursday evening and night once again caused immense trouble for the citizens making their ways back to home after office hours due to snarl-ups and inundated roads.

Since the Met Office had already forecast heavy rains for Thursday, most of the citizens had braced themselves for the worst that was to come owing to the Sindh and local governments’ failure to get the storm water drains cleaned in time. The earlier rains in the city during the current monsoon rain also laid bare the ineffective measures of the governments in this regard.

After the agony suffered by the people of Karachi during the last rain, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), on the directions of Prime Minister Imran Khan, started cleaning different rain drains of the city with the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) with the assistance of the provincial government.

After dark clouds descended over the city in the evening, the rain started at 4pm in different parts of the city, which continued late in the night. It was around 7:30pm when it started raining heavily.

Soon, rainwater started accumulating in different parts of the city, which halted the traffic four hours. The vehicles came to a standstill from Karsaz to Pir Bukhari, from the Baloch Colony flyover to the Qayyumabad Chowrangi and from the Ripma Plaza to the Gull Plaza.

The movement of traffic was also affected on Shershah Suri Road, Rashid Minhas Road and University Road. The Karsaz flyover was also closed for traffic for a brief time after the rainfall. Rainwater also accumulated at Nipa, Hassan Square, Tariq Road, Jauhar Chowrangi, Samama, Mehmoodabad, Tipu Sultan Road, Uncle Sirya Road, areas surrounding the Jinnah International Airport, Tibet Center, Aiwan-e-Sadar Road, II Chundrigar Road, Denso Hall, Tower, Brooks Chowrangi and Gulshan Chorangi.

District Central of Karachi, which was severely affected during the last rain spell, was again flooded as rainwater accumulated in many of its areas including Shadman Town, Hyderi Market, Nagan Chowrangi, Sakhi Hassan, Ayesha Manzil and Gulberg.

Clogged drains

It was not until July 2 that the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and the six District Municipal Corporations (DMCs) started to clean the city’s nullahs — after holding several news conferences against the provincial government for not providing funds to them for the task.

There are 522 small and big drains in the city, of which 38 are major ones. The FWO, under the NDMA’s supervision, has been cleaning 22 drains on an emergency basis, while the Sindh government is carrying out the cleaning work on 19 big drains.

The Gujjar Nullah, Korangi Nullah and Mowach Goth Nullah are being cleaned by the FWO. There are 42 choking points in these three storm water drains, which caused massive flooding during the last rainfall, submerging a large number of areas in District Central and West in water and sewage.

According to the NDMA, as many as 35 choking points have already been cleaned. A press statement from the NDMA claimed that 80 per cent of the Gujjar Nullah had been cleaned, while 85 percent of the cleaning work had been completed in the Korangi Nullah. The Mowach Goth drain had been 75 per cent cleaned, the statement claimed.

On Wednesday alone, some 10,000 tons of garbage was lifted out from the three drains. Since the cleaning work was started, more than 20,000 tons of filth has been removed from these drains.

Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani also visited the Gujjar Nullah on Thursday. “The situation is not the best, but it’s better than the last time,” he remarked, adding that he and his team were out in the field to monitor the situation.

The commissioner assured that even during the rainfall, the cleaning work on drains would continue. However, the cleaning work proved futile in many places as In District Central and West, most of the filth taken out from the drains was placed on footpaths and roads.

After it rained heavily, the garbage was strewn across the roads and then pushed back into the nullahs due to the water pressure, especially at Sakhi Hassan Chowrangi, Peoples Chowrangi, Gulberg and Nazimabad.

In the Golimar area, several manholes of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board overflowed after the rainfall and rainwater mixed with sewage entered inside homes and shops. According to a statement issued by the DMC West, the DMC’s elected chairman, Izharuddin Ahmed, has imposed a rain emergency in the entire district. He has directed his officials to keep the dewatering pumps functional round the clock.

Meanwhile, DMC South Chairman Malik Fayyaz said they had already imposed an emergency in the district prior to the rainfall. Additional machinery and manpower, he said, had been deployed in areas which were inundated during the last few spells in the district.

DMC East Chairman Moeed Anwar also visited different areas of the district and monitored the drainage work. In case of a heavy rainfall, he assured that they would deploy more dewatering pumps and manpower to provide relief to the citizens.

Power breakdown

More than 80 per cent of the city was without power when it started to rain. People suffered from announced and unannounced intermittent power outages even before the rainfall.

After the rain, more than 200 feeders of K-Electric (KE) tripped. The areas were the power supply was disrupted included Surjani Town, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Golimar, Defence Housing Authority, Clifton, PECHS, Saadi Town, Gulshan-e-Maymar, New Karachi, North Karachi, Naziambad, North Nazimabad, Gulberg, Kharadar and Lyari.

Residents complained that the duration of load-shedding had increased to 12 hours or more in some areas even before the rainfall.

Most areas of Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Saddar, North Karachi, Gulshan-e-Iqbal and Lyari faced power outages of three to six hours in the wee hours of Thursday. There was not any power from 1am till 8am in Gulistan-e-Jauhar Block 12, a resident told The News, adding that they even ran out of petrol for their generators.

Another resident of Gulistan-e-Jauhar Block 15 shared how they did not have power in the early hours of Thursday. When it started raining on Thursday evening, there was again a power breakdown and electricity was not restored till the late night. Even after it had stopped raining in different areas of the city, the power supply could not be restored.

KE’s statement

In a statement issued, KE said that with another wave of monsoon showers hitting Karachi, it reiterated its call for following all necessary safety protocols.

The power utility said it had released a series of public safety messages, including a safety marketing campaign across all media platforms. KE urged its customers to be mindful of the issues Karachi’s infrastructure faced due to rain and put their trust in the power utility by staying patient.

It claimed that its teams continued in the filed around the clock for addressing faults and complaints. In areas,such as Orangi Town, Sohrab Goth, North Nazimabad, North Karachi, Liaquatabad and Baldia town, it was necessary to shut down power due to waterlogging, the power utility said, adding that such areas were at the risk of becoming hazardous electrocution zones due to the presence of fallen internet and television cables and those power poles that were knocked down by overgrown trees falling over them.

KE said that during the recent rain, it deliberately suspended power supply in the interest of ensuring public safety to as many as 350 feeders where there was severe waterlogging and presence of kundas.

The power utility maintained that it was committed to making the best efforts possible to restore power but it also prioritised the safety of customers and its on-ground staff. It appealed to the relevant civic authorities to coordinate with one another to ensure that the necessary protocols, such as clearance of the drainage system, removal of encroachments on infrastructure and pruning of overgrown foliage, were followed.