SUKKUR / HYDERABAD / KARACHI: The much-awaited rainfall in Karachi brought smiles to the faces of people but it deepened the worry lines on the faces of government officials. The heavy downpour exposed the crisis of civic management in the country’s largest city.
Most roads were inundated with rainwater while garbage piles have swept into the nullahs, choking the drains.
“The municipal authorities are busy cleaning the main roads and do not care enough to help us despite several complaints,” said Ali Najam, a resident of Gulshan-e-Iqbal Block 13-D, who was busy draining water out of his street along with his neighbours. Roads in North Nazimabad, Federal B Area, Liaquatabad and Nazimabad also presented a similar sight.
Sharae Faisal, the city’s main thoroughfare which received the maximum rainfall of 30mm, appeared clean on Wednesday but the adjacent roads and housing societies were flooded. University Road was flooded between Baitul Mukarram mosque and Civic Centre forcing traffic to play on only one track of the four-lane road.
“We did not expect back-to-back showers,” admitted East administrator Rehmatullah Shaikh, who was monitoring the work from the spot. His teams were working since early on Wednesday morning, he said.
Even Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) administrator Laeeq Ahmed admitted the major problem was garbage lying on the roads, which has blocked the storm water drains. It seems like the district municipal corporations, responsible for garbage management, underestimated the warnings by the meteorological department, he said.
For now, KMC is focusing on maintaining the flow of water in all its 30 nullahs. Currently, a rising flow of water has been seen at Gujjar, Manzoor Colony, Orangi and Soldier Bazaar nullahs. Since land alongside these drains has been encroached, there is a lot of garbage dumped on it and that creates an obstacle while cleaning, he explained. Ahmed said they were unable to start cleaning of nullahs earlier than last week as they were short on funds.
Local government minister Jam Khan Shoro found everything under control. “Water was drained out in a majority of areas by morning and the same will be done after the second spell of rain on Wednesday,” he said.
The rain was dealt with considerably better in cantonment areas and DHA, where cleaning began a few weeks ago. The situation is under control up till now and our teams are taking regular rounds, said Cantonment Board Clifton spokesperson Amir Abdul Rab.
According to the met office, the rainfall system in southern parts of Sindh will continue till Thursday and the city will experience more rainfall in the next 24 hours. “These are pre-monsoon rains and the city will receive handsome amount of rain after the first week of July,” said Meteorological Centre, Karachi, regional director Abdul Rashid.
Lower Sindh welcomes rain
The first spell of pre-monsoon rains which began Tuesday in several districts of Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas and Nawabshah divisions continued with scattered downpour on Wednesday. Mirpurkhas district received 30mm rainfall and Hyderabad district received 18mm. The districts of Badin, Thatta, Sujawal, Tando Allahyar and Matiari also received moderate to low downpour.
The rain created flash flood in Shaheed Benazirabad and Mirpurkhas districts while widespread power outages were reported from all the districts in Hyderabad Electric Supply Company’s (Hesco) jurisdiction.
In Badin, the local traders called a strike against the power outages on Tuesday. The office of Hesco’s local chief engineer was ransacked. Protests were also reported in several areas of Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas and Nawabshah divisions.
Upper Sindh ‘dislikes’ rain
Even though rain was welcomed with open arms in Karachi and parts of lower Sindh, the residents of upper Sindh complained about the heavy downpour due to inundated roads and suspension of electricity.
Farmers also complained that rainfall at this time of the year is not good for the date crop in Khairpur district. “If there is more rainfall in the next 15 days, it will prove disastrous for the Aseel date crop,” said Haji Abdul Jalil Memon, a date farmer in Khairpur. This variety of dates gives a stench so foul after rainfall that the entire crop goes to waste and has to be used as animal feed, he explained.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2016.