‘Gutter fashion show’: Novel form of protest bears fruit for traders

KWSB assures Bohri Bazaar shopkeepers of replacing sewage line

Photo: Aysha Saleem/Oonib Azam February 04, 2016
Bohri Bazaar traders held a mock fashion show in the overflowing gutters outside the market, hoping they can shame the government into taking action. PHOTO: AYSHA SALEEM/EXPRESS


Tired of the government's apathy in addressing civic problems, traders in Saddar's Bohri Bazaar decided to stage a 'gutter fashion show' to draw attention of officials.

On Wednesday, a woman clad in a black veil and a bulky man donning a white shalwar kameez and brown waistcoat, both barefooted, cat-walked in sewage in front of Chandi Gali as part of the 'fashion show'.

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At the site, a commode was placed in front of a panaflex featuring Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah's picture, and slogans against his government's failure to clean sewage from the city's roads.

Following a drop in customers due to the overflowing gutters, the Karachi Tajir Alliance Association (KTAA) of Bohri Bazaar decided to take up a notch all the civil society's campaigns against the Sindh government's disregard of addressing sewage issues by holding the 'gutter fashion show' in sewage accumulated outside their shops.

KTAA president Muhammad Ayaz Memon told The Express Tribune they just wanted to make the government realise the common man's misery. "It has been three months that sewage has inundated the whole area," said a shopkeeper at Doha Jewellers, Umair. He claimed they had sent hundreds of applications to Chief Minister House and Karachi Water and Sewage Board (KWSB) to fix the issue but no one bothered.

"Our businesses are collapsing. Customers don't make their way to our shops, and the government seems to be asleep," he deplored. He said a KWSB team did visit the area and informed them that the sewage line needed to be replaced as the old one has become nonfunctional. "And then they never came back," said Umair.

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Explaining the idea of the fashion show, Memon said elected representatives feel proud going to fashion shows of the elite class whereas slum residents do not have clothes to wear and are forced to live amid overflowing gutters. "So, I decided to arrange a fashion show featuring the misery of the common man," he said.

Referring to his campaign as an 'aam admi [common man] production', he said they just wanted to open the government's eyes to the miseries faced by the downtrodden.

Early last month, Alamgir Khan, a resident, started his 'Fixit' campaign by stenciling the CM's face beside open manholes and heaps of garbage to draw the authorities' attention. The incident resulted in the CM taking 'notice' and warning the relevant officials to 'fix' the issue as soon as possible.

Bearing fruit

As a result of their campaign, the KWSB geared up after a slumber of three months, revealed Memon. "A KWSB official called and assured me that a new sewage line would be placed in a day," he said on Thursday, adding that had he not held the fashion show, no one would have bothered to take any action.

Flooded streets leave residents trapped in their homes

KWSB superintendent engineer (South) Muhammad Arif assured The Express Tribune that they would replace the sewage line in the wee hours of Friday. He said the water was overflowing for the last five days only and they were waiting for traffic rush to subside over the weekend to replace the line, as the area is very congested and full of shops. "We cannot dig it up on weekdays," he said.

'Bhangra' in the pipeline

Pledging to continue his campaign to clean up the city, Memon said if the government did not mend its ways, he would place the CM's pictures along with commodes and arrange a 'bhangra' [traditional dance] with drums wherever he found sewage overflowing in the metropolis.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th,  2016.


Dajjal | 5 years ago | Reply "KTAA president Muhammad Ayaz Memon told The Express Tribune they just wanted to make the government realise the common man’s misery." When will Mr. Ayaz Memon realize that the PPP Govt in Sindh IS the common man's misery..
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