LAHORE: The incompetence of the Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) became evident from the way the streets of Lahore became flooded as soon as the metropolis experienced its first spell of monsoon.
Life came to a standstill as accumulated rainwater, up to one’s waist, not only made it impossible for people to get out of their homes but also led to cars breaking down on roads as water gushed into exhaust pipes and engines.
Major localities, graveyards and even public parks were submerged in a day. Miani Sahib and Mian Mir Sahib were among the many graveyards which were flooded, leading to people feeling anxious about their loved ones’ graves.
Several residential areas, including Gulberg, Johar Town, Ichhra, Samanabad, Iqbal Town, Waris Road, Lakshmi Chowk etc. were most affected by the rains.
This raises an important question: Did WASA learn nothing from the issues that the city faced during last year’s monsoon rains? It appears that WASA was not only ill-equipped to handle the situation but had been making false statements of being “all-set to handle any disastrous situation” all along.
Adding to citizens’ trouble were numerous incidents of electrocution as transmission wires fell into the accumulated water in multiple areas. This created paranoia among the public and brought life to a halt, especially in working class areas.
But those who opted to remain inside were still not entirely safe. Due to the absence of a proper sewerage system, rainwater and sewage entered houses, making it impossible for the inhabitants to stay inside.
A survey of Ichhra and Samanabad, thickly populated commercial areas, two days after the heavy downpour, exposed WASA’s inept sewerage system. Several roads were seen inundated with sewage while residents also complained of non-cooperation of WASA’s staff.
As the city’s dystopian image emerged completely, people began dialling WASA’s helpline. The scenario was the same as every year during this season; the helpline remained busy, leading to mounting frustration in the public at large.
This brings us to the second question: If WASA is aware of the traffic they receive on their helpline, why did they not upgrade their systems in the past year?
While the poor suffered, influential people living in posh areas used their influence to push the authority to use water pumps and get rid of accumulated rainwater in their vicinities. This raises questions about the priorities of Lahore’s administration. Taxpayers deserve relief yet they are the ones who suffer most.
Word around town is that the incumbent managing director of WASA is not competent enough to run the authority effectively. In most cases, when the high-ups are incompetent, their sub-ordinates display traits of laziness as well. The last thing this city needs is its premier water agency becoming a dead organisation.