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August 23, 2020

Murad praises political opponent for rainwater drainage efforts


August 23, 2020

In a rare show of acknowledgement that transcends party affiliation, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Friday night praised Central District Municipal Corporation Chairman Rehan Hashmi’s rainwater drainage efforts during the latest spell of monsoon showers in Karachi.

“The tenure of Rehan Hashmi will end in a week’s time, but he has not left the field. He is present here with his entire team. I’m thankful to him. Also present here is the deputy commissioner of the district,” said the chief executive.

CM Shah was talking to the media as he inspected several areas in District Central late in the night that were affected because of Friday’s downpour. He was accompanied by his environment adviser Barrister Murtaza Wahab, Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah and Labour Minister Saeed Ghani.

Hashmi is affiliated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which often bitterly clashes with the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) over the powers available to the municipal body of Karachi and the forming of a new province comprising Sindh’s urban parts.

The leaders, members and supporters of the two opponent political parties rarely praise each other when it comes to the governance of the metropolitan city or the rest of the province.

Shah told the media that there was no doubt of the existence of problems in the drainage of rainwater in certain parts of Karachi, but the current situation was a lot better than that which prevailed in 2007 and 2009, when the city had been hit with torrential rains.

“We are present here with our entire team to sort out these issues because we stand with the citizens of Karachi in order to solve their problems,” he said. He offered showing the media pictures of that period to prove his point.

The CM said that Karachi’s drainage situation had improved a lot because the PPP’s provincial government had worked tirelessly during the past decade to improve the city’s civic infrastructure.

He acknowledged that the National Disaster Management Authority had recently carried out good work and de-silted three major storm water drains of Karachi. He, however, lamented that the situation had not changed much, as was evident from the recent spell of rain.

He pointed out two main reasons for the obstruction of smooth drainage of rainwater across the city: constant garbage disposal in storm water drains and unchecked encroachment on the land of the drainage network.

Shah said his government had been implementing a World Bank-assisted project to properly revive the storm water drains of the city by protecting them from encroachments and municipal waste.

He said his government would fully revive the 38 major storm water drains of Karachi that were primarily the responsibility of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation.

He also said the Sindh government had sought permission from the Karachi mayor before launching the work to overhaul the city’s network of storm water drains.

The CM said that rapid commercialisation had ruined District Central, whose areas faced an emergency situation after the latest spell of rain, adding that the district used to have big houses covering areas of up to 2,000 square yards that were later replaced by high-rises of up to 20 storeys.

He said he was not the province’s chief executive during the time rapid commercialisation massively changed the district’s built environment. He also said that nowhere else in the country the CM and his cabinet visit rain-affected areas. He added that they would monitor rainwater drainage across the city.