- Karachi needs a more permanent solution to its infrastructure problem
For the citizens of Karachi, the catastrophe created by monsoon rains is an annual event. The city’s sewerage and drainage system is ill-equipped to handle heavy continuous rainfall for more than a couple of hours, at which point water starts to collect on the roads. This coupled with a perpetual waste management problem, whereby only between 2,000 and 3,000 tons of the 20,000 tons of waste that is generated daily, is picked up and processed, results in the spontaneous formation of small garbage infested lakes in different parts of the metropolis. Destruction of private and public property is one consequence of the twin problems; death due to rain-related incidents is another more serious outcome. Both the PPP and MQM, running the province and Karachi for over more than a decade, have miserably failed at addressing these issues for years. As is typical in such circumstances, the Federal government sees this as an opportunity to criticise the Sindh government for its incompetence. The MQM, being an ally of the ruling party in the center, gets a pass. Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto has recently gone on the warpath against the PTI government both inside and outside of parliament. In the backdrop of such mudslinging between the center and the Sindh government, it was to be expected that any move by the former to come on to the latter’s turf and address these problems would create another crisis. Therefore, Prime Minister Imran Khan, showing some political savvy, tasked the NDMA and the Army to clean up Karachi. While the PPP can stop the center from intervening in provincial matters, it cannot do the same when it comes to the NDMA, Rangers and the army.
NDMA Chairman Lt Gen Mohammad Afzal, while announcing the commencement of work to clean major storm-water drains, explained that their short-term goal was “disaster mitigation” and to prepare the city to tolerate upcoming spells of rain. His advice for ‘all stakeholders to come on board, create consensus and formulate a long-term plan to find a permanent solution’ should be considered by the federal, provincial and district-level governments. Such an outcome seems unlikely however, given the heightened political tensions not to mention the disdain felt by all parties involved for each other. As things stand, Karachi should not expect the next monsoon season to be any different than the current or previous ones.