Lack of funding: KU’s buildings, offices sit in disrepair

Crumbling structures threat to safety, say faculty members


Safdar Rizvi May 31, 2021
Karachi University. PHOTO: MOHAMAMD NOMAN/EXPRESS

KARACHI:

With little to no maintenance done in the past few years, the decades-old infrastructure of the University of Karachi (KU) is crumbling.

The lack of upkeep, which is reportedly owed to exhausted funds and budget-cuts, has left many sections of the city’s largest public sector university, including its residential complexes and departmental buildings in a state of disrepair.

Ceilings of the university’s various offices, classrooms and laboratories are said to be in dilapidated condition, while slabs of plaster falling from roofs of connecting corridors of some departments have also been the cause of multiple accidents in the past.

Speaking in this regard, KU Vice Chancellor Prof Khalid Mahmood Iraqi revealed that the issue was discussed with reference to some other universities, including KU, in a meeting of Sindh’s vice chancellors with the provincial government and the chief secretary, last year. “The meeting also requested for release of funds for construction and repair of KU’s departments and recommended allocation of a separate budget. However, no meaningful response was received,” the vice chancellor shared.

Moreover, it has also come to light that KU’s department of engineering has itself not taken much interest in the maintenance and repair of the campus’ multiple dilapidated departments. This is reflected in the lack of data on crumbling sections of the campus, available at the said department’s disposal.

For instance, the university’s mathematics department is a testament to this destruction of infrastructure.

However, when The Express Tribune contacted KU Engineering Department Head Naeemur Rehman, there appeared no mention of the dilapidated mathematics building in his records.

Meanwhile, sources in the mathematics department claim more than one letter has been written to the engineering department for the construction and repair of the department, but all to no avail.

“The department of biochemistry also suffers a similar fate as the mathematics department. A few months ago, the plaster of the ceiling of a teacher’s office fell off. Fortunately, she was not in the office at the time of the accident and remained unhurt.

Meanwhile, the faculties of the Arts, Urdu, International Relations, Economics and Politics programmes are also constantly reporting cracks and leakages in their buildings’ roofs.

Similarly, the departments of science suffer every time there’s any downpour in the city, but the engineering department fails to acknowledge any of this,” informed a KU source, on conditions of anonymity.

According to data received from the Engineering Office however, the roofs of some houses of KU as well as the Department of Biochemistry, School of Law building, Department of Chemistry and the Central Library are to be repaired, for which a tender of Rs10 million is to be issued.

According to the Department of Engineering, an external member is to be nominated for the tendering committee as well as the redressal committee under the law of Sindh Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (SEPRA) Rules. “A letter in this regard was written to the Registrar of NED University on March 10, and requested an engineer from NED University be nominated for this committee. But so far, the matter has not progressed much on NED’s end,” asserted an engineering department source.

When asked about this, the NED University registrar shared that they nominated an engineer for this committee almost 15 days ago. “But it is not clear why the KU’s engineering department, despite the completion of the requirement has not yet been able to issue a tender for the construction and repair of houses,” the NED registrar opined.

In view of opposing claims, The Express Tribune made several attempts to contact Naeemur Rehman for some clarity on the matter, but the Engineering Department Head remained unavailable to comment.

It is however worth mentioning that KU has an annual expenditure of Rs6,500 million. So far, the university has received only Rs1,800 million from the Higher Education Commission, following budget-cuts two years ago. Out of the Rs612 million Sindh government grant, a total of Rs400 million has been received thus far, leaving the varsity to increase its fees to meet its various expenses.

 

Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2021.

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