The war between the MQM and the PPP continues to play out on Karachi’s turf. In the latest battle, the PPP government has scored an ostensible victory by cleverly wresting control of the Karachi Development Authority (KDA). The KDA, formed in 1957, was once a powerful entity, responsible as it was for land development. In 2002, however, it was wrapped up and its 19 departments were merged with the KMC during the rule of General (retd) Pervez Musharraf when the MQM was running the city. With the KDA (Revival & Amendment) Bill of 2016, the PPP has exacted its revenge for the MQM’s 2002 decision to place the KDA under the mayor by amending the KDA Ordinance of 1952. To add insult to injury, it has been placed under the minister for local government and not the mayor of Karachi.
The KMC is already no longer responsible for garbage collection as this is managed by the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board. The KMC is not in charge of water either because that responsibility lies with the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board. The KMC has nothing to do with transport, except for maintaining 32 roads in the city. Last year, health, education and local taxes were also taken away from the entity. It isn’t responsible for planning Karachi either — the department that did that, the Master Plan Group of Offices, will return to the KDA from the Sindh Building Control Authority. This is perhaps the only silver lining as Karachi needs a robust research-oriented planning office. But no clarity has been offered on this yet and the master plan office needs competent manpower and the authority to implement its policies instead of taking dictation from politicians. The timing to pass this bill is important. Karachi doesn’t have a mayor in office yet. The Karachi administrator will sign whatever is needed to usher in the director-general for the revived KDA. And since the Civic Centre was originally the KDA headquarters, the new DG can effectively tell the entire KMC to pack up and return to the Old KMC building where it used to be housed before 2002.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2016.
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