KARACHI: Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani visited the office of Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar on Thursday at the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) head office and assured him of his mayoral powers as per the law. The duo also addressed a press conference after a brief meeting and agreed to fight encroachment issues in the city together.
It was the first-of-its-kind visit by any minister of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government to the mayor’s office after he was elected more than two years ago.
Ghani said that even though the mayor belongs to Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) he could approach his party and move some legislation in Sindh Assembly for amendments in Sindh Local Government Act 2013. During the press conference, Ghani assured that Akhtar would gradually get the powers that the mayor should have under the law. “I am personally in favour of a strong local government system,” he said, but added that even if an organisation is empowered, it won’t be able to deliver if it doesn’t have the capacity.
Though agreeing with the idea of devolution of powers in principle, Ghani said, “As for now whatever powers the KMC has, under the Sindh Local Government Act, they should use them accordingly”.
Ghani regretted that they couldn’t hold a meeting earlier due to their engagements. He also pledged to see the chairmen of all the district municipal corporations (DMCs) to solve the city’s problems. He, however, did not rule out the possibility of hostility between the two in future. “We may continue to give political statements against each other, because we are from different parties,” he said and added that they would, however, work on issues together.
Ghani further said that he would go to the Chief Minister to seek help to resolve the problems of people collectively. He also said that there is a room to make corrections in the local government system that can be made through Sindh Assembly. “Amendments can be made in local government law as this is not a sacred document”, he said. Meanwhile, Akhtar also vowed to work jointly for the betterment of the city.
When asked about the acute water shortage in the city, Ghani said that the city was getting 35% of water against the required capacity of Karachi.
Responding to Karachi’s traffic problem and encroachment issues, Ghani assured that they would work with the KMC for the enforcement of traffic laws and removal of encroachments. Both the minister and mayor agreed to work in each other’s vote banks. “Neither I will stop him from working in PPP areas nor he will stop us working in MQM areas,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2018.