KARACHI: Garbage collection in Karachi reeks of dirty politics as the Chinese contractors hired to carry out the process are still awaiting approvals from the district municipal corporations (DMCs).
The Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP)-led Sindh government decided to outsource garbage collection in the city to a Chinese company, Changyi Kangjie Sanitation Engineering Company, soon after the formation of the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board (SSWMB).
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The contract for garbage collection has already been awarded for districts East and South but it has yet to be made public. An official claimed that the government has agreed to pay Rs2 billion every year for garbage collection of two districts and this decision has not sat well with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). According to MQM’s Khawaja Izharul Haq, who is the opposition leader in the Sindh Assembly, a local company could have carried out the garbage collection in less than half the money being offered to the Chinese company.
Since MQM holds a majority in three of Karachi’s six districts - East, Central and Korangi - their opposition can delay the garbage collection process. The private contractor needs the approval of the DMCs’ councils as per the law, explained SSWMB managing director Dr AD Sajnani.
Not on the same page
Despite the unanimous opposition to the outsourcing of garbage collection, the MQM lacks its usual uniformity when it comes to this issue. The party has majority in districts East, Korangi and Central but only District East has given consent to the Chinese company and the garbage collection is scheduled to kick off from February whereas District Central vowed to oppose the move.
The DMC Central chairperson, MQM’s Rehan Hashmi, told The Express Tribune that they will resist the Chinese company’s operations in his district. “Only if half of the amount that is being given to the Chinese company is transferred to the DMC, we will uplift [garbage] in the entire district,” said Hashmi, adding that there has been a lack of transparency in awarding contract to the Chinese company by the Sindh government. “We are doing whatever we can to lift the garbage in our district,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, the chairperson of DMC East, MQM’s Moeed Anwar, said garbage collection has been outsourced in all countries in the world. “We may not be able to collect garbage in our districts with the existing system,” he said. If the Chinese company does not do a good job, they can be sent back, he added.
DMC Korangi has yet to make a decision but they are inclined to follow the same path as District Central. “We will see how they operate in other districts and then come to a decision,” said DMC Korangi chairperson Nayyar Raza, also of the MQM. His district has yet to receive the SSWMB letter requesting for the council’s approval for garbage collection.
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As for mayor Wasim Akhtar, he is very much on board with the decision to oursource garbage collection to a Chinese company. Each district is free to make its decision and the performance of the SSWMB in districts South and East will tell if other districts should allow the Chinese company to operate or not, he said, adding that the districts have nothing to do with the party or its policies.
In principle, all powers should lie with the city mayor, said MQM spokesperson Aminul Haque, adding that the same job can be done by the DMCs on their own at half the cost. As for DMC East’s approval, he said the decision was made in haste.
One small step
The waste management board is, therefore, kicking off the garbage collection from only districts South and East for now. “We cannot go in any district against their will,” said Dr Sajnani, hoping that pressure from the people will make other councils give their approvals.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2017.
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