‘Sindh’s infrastructure in a shambles’

Opposition MPAs decry transport woes, tanker mafia as house discusses budget expenditures


Hafeez Tunio May 01, 2021
Sindh Assembly Session. PHOTO: NNI

KARACHI:

Opposition members in Sindh Assembly censured the provincial government on Friday over the deplorable state of infrastructure in the province and the slow pace of development projects. They took strong exception to the prevalence of the tanker mafia and the lack of mass transit facilities during the assembly session.

As the house took up discussion on the budget expenditures for the current fiscal year, opposition lawmakers decried the appalling state of public transport in the metropolis and claimed that Karachi has become infamous for being a "rickshaw city". "For years now, people of this city have suffered in the absence of dependable public transport," said Muttahida Qaumi MovementPakistan MPA Rabia Khatoon. "We want to know where does the multibillion budget go. Why is the public transport issue not resolved?" The lack of mass transit facilities in the megacity is baffling for commuters, she said.

"Rickshaws and taxis are fleecing poor people," she remarked. The MQM-P lawmaker further drew the house's attention towards water scarcity and the dominance of the tanker mafia. "Not a single area is spared from the menace of tankers. Water is provided by the tanker mafia at exorbitant rates." Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf lawmaker Shah Nawaz Jadoon too chided the Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government on the lack of public transport. Referring to an old statement of PPP stalwart and Sindh Information Minister Nasir Hussain Shah, he asked where are the buses promised - several times in the past decade - by the PPP-led Sindh government.

PPP ministers and lawmakers call Karachi "the heart of Sindh," but they have done practically nothing for the betterment of the city, said Jadoon. Citing broken roads, heaps of garbage and accumulated sewerage water on the main arteries of the city as evidence, he alleged that the provincial government was mistreating the urban centre. Meanwhile, Grand Democratic Alliance MPA Abdul Razzaque Rahimoon highlighted the issue of non-functional river osmosis (RO) plants. "The government claims to have setup more than 700 RO plants, worth billions of rupees, in Thar, but a majority of them are lying idle," he said.

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Rahimoon maintained that coal was being excavated from Thar but not a single power unit had been provided to the people of that region. Referring to the representation of opposition parties in standing committees, Rahimoon said that "the assembly is not just for the ruling party. Opposition parties also reserve equal rights. The chairmanship of standing committees [should] be given to opposition members without any delay to keep vigil on government departments' performance." As the discussion progressed, PTI's Dewan Sachal underscored the deteriorating condition of roads in Sanghar.

He alleged that Sanghar was being punished because its residents voted against the PPP. Responding from the other side of the aisle, PPP lawmaker Hina Dastagheer dismissed the opposition's concerns. "PPP won the byelection of Baldia in NA-249 on the basis of its performance. If our government had not worked in the city then people would not have voted for our candidate," she maintained. Dastagheer pointed fingers at the PTI, which leads the coalition government in the Centre, instead, and censured it for prolonged load shedding in every corner of the province.

Seconding her, PPP lawmaker Mukesh Kumar Chawla said that Prime Minister Imran Khan and Federal Foreign Affairs Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had announced a Rs1 billion water project during their visit to Thar. "The people of Thar are still desperately waiting for it." Chawla added that the PTI government's performance was reflected in the results of the NA-249 by-poll, where the party emerged fifth. Dr Seema Zia of the PTI and PPP's Imdad Pitafi also spoke during the budget discussion before the house adjourned till Monday.

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