LAHORE: The rains and floods that have regularly ravaged Pakistan for the past few years, displacing millions, are more of a man-made disaster, than a natural one. Pakistan receives the least quantum of rain during the monsoon season in the southeast Asian region. Unfortunately, despite the moderate amount of rainfall that the country receives, the damage caused is way out of proportion. In other countries of the region, roads, bridges, dams and embankments are built to withstand far more intense and frequent rains.
Absence of adequate dams for storage of excess water, along with deforestation and substandard construction of infrastructure due to rampant corruption, have contributed to the excessive damage that is caused, even when the country receives moderate to slightly heavy rainfall. When corrupt executives are appointed in public sector organisations like the Irrigation and Public Works Department and contracts are awarded solely on the basis of kickbacks, then roads, bridges and embankments will disintegrate, even during moderate rainfall. Billions have been disbursed to parliamentarians for development work in their constituencies. The provinces also get significant amounts for development work. However, even in a city like Karachi, which alone has received more in terms of development funds compared with the rest of Sindh, moderate to low rains result in the collapse of infrastructure, which points to the dismal quality of construction that has taken place in the city during the past decade.
Absence of accountability and poor governance have further aggravated the situation. As long as corrupt bureaucrats, engineers, contractors and public representatives are not given exemplary punishment for their corruption and incompetence, the poor of this country will continue to suffer.
Malik Tariq Ali
Published in The Express Tribune, September 13th, 2012.