Scores of residents of Gowalmandi staged a demonstration and blocked Mcleod Road for traffic for several hours on Saturday to protest suspension of water supply in the area on account of work for the Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) project.
The protesters said water supply to their homes had been suspended earlier in the day without any warning. They said the Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) officials working near the OLMT project site had told them that pipelines serving the area were being shifted to make way for the construction of the metro train’s track.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Muhammad Shahzad and Kashif Munir condemned the WASA for suspending water supply to their homes without informing them in advance. “Water is a basic need. It is unbelievable that the WASA can suspend supply in such a manner,” Munir said.
“What kind of development work deprives a community of basic needs?” Shahzad said. He said the WASA should have given the residents some time to make alternative arrangements.
Other protesters said the WASA was also repairing sewage pipes in some areas. They also complained about excessive dust and mud and traffic jams caused by construction work and said that it seemed that the government had started the project without appropriate planning for fixing these problems.
WASA Deputy Managing Director Chaudhry Aftab Ahmad said water supply to some areas along the OLMT route had been suspended to shift the supply pipes. “I realise that people are facing a difficulty but they should understand that it’s [OLMT] a mega project that requires a lot of facilities to be relaid,” he said.
He said work was on schedule in most areas. He said in some areas they were waiting for the project team to demolish buildings on land marked for acquisition to start shifting water and sewage pipes.
Ahmad said residents of neighbourhoods along the OLMT track would face problems for around three to four months. He said shifting of infrastructure for electricity, Sui Gas and telephone landlines would also be required over the course of construction work for the OLMT project.
Ahmed said the scope of the WASA’s work along the OLMT route was limited to shifting of water and sewer lines. The authority was not improving sewer design or capacity in any of these areas, he said.
Ahmed said sewage pipes removed during the shifting had been laid in 1937. The sewerage system in the area had become ineffective due to corrosion, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2016.