Five-year-old boy dies after falling into open manhole

Sewer of a bungalow was blocked and its residents opened it to unblock it, says resident


Our Correspondent July 03, 2019
Representational image. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

KARACHI: The body of a five-year-old boy was found from a sewer in Jamshed Quarters, a day after the child had been reported missing. Police said that the child had fallen into an open manhole while playing in the street outside his home.

The victim, identified as Calvin, son of Joseph, had gone missing from Police Lines, near Jamshed Quarters Police Station on Monday. When police received information about the body of a child that was found from a sewer, they reached the site and shifted the deceased to Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital for medico-legal formalities. Later, the body was handed over to the family.

A father's plea

Speaking to the media, the child's father said his son fell into the manhole of a sewer while playing with his friends. In the CCTV footage of the incident, Calvin can be seen falling into the sewer while walking in the street. The other children didn't notice him falling and walked ahead. Joseph added that his son fell into the manhole because its lid was open but someone closed it after he fell in.

When the staff of Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) came to unblock the sewer, they opened the lid and found his son's body there, said Joseph.  He added that Calvin, a student of second grade, was the youngest of his three children.

A child, who is a resident of the same neighbourhood, said that the sewer of a bungalow in the street was blocked and residents of the bungalow had opened its lid to unblock it. Calvin fell into the manhole when it was open and the bungalow's residents had later placed the lid again, the child added.

According to residents of the area, the lids of several manholes have been missing from the past several years. While the KWSB and other relevant authorities have been informed about it multiple times, no action has been taken in this regard.

The residents said that they have arranged lids for many open manholes themselves. The authorities should look into this matter seriously and lids should be placed on all the open manholes, they said.

The politics of manholes

Open manholes are a common sight in Karachi, not just in congested localities but on major thoroughfares too. In 2016, Alamgir Khan, who is now a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf lawmaker, ran a campaign on social media to raise awareness about the issue and also jolt the provincial authorities into action.

As part of the Khan-led Fix-It campaign, volunteers had even spray-painted the portrait of then CM Qaim Ali Shah next to the open manholes. The aim, according to Khan, was to attract the authorities' attention towards the issues that affected the citizens of the port city. The stunt proved effective - the chief minister took notice and ordered the authorities to seal the manholes. 

Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2019.

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