Karachi Administrator Murtaza Wahab has directed the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and district municipal corporations (DMCs) to formulate a comprehensive strategy to deal with the next spell of monsoon rains.
“Choked drainage points should be cleared as soon as possible. Next three days are a challenge for us in light of the rain forecast. All possible steps must be taken to cope with rain-related problems,” said Wahab, presiding over a ‘rain emergency’ meeting at his office on Wednesday.
A day earlier, the Pakistan Meteorological Department had warned of torrential rains in Karachi, Hyderabad, Thatta and Badin under a low pressure system from cyclone Gulab in the Arabian Sea.
On Tuesday, Karachiites sweltered under the effects of this system with mercury shooting as high as 38.5 degrees Celsius. Humidity levels in the air remained high as the sea breeze was suspended.
Cyclone Gulab intensifies
On Wednesday, the PMD reiterated that the depression in the sea is intensifying and likely to develop into a cyclonic storm.
According to the PMD’s latest advisory, cyclone Gulab is moving northwest from Indian Gujrat and can further intensify as it reaches the Arabian Sea today (Thursday). Under this system, torrential downpours and thunderstorms are expected to hit Karachi, Hyderabad, Thatta and Badin from today till October 2 (Saturday). Scattered rains are expected in Mirpurkhas, Tharparkar, Umerkot, Sanghar and other districts of Sindh and Balochistan as well.
The PMD warned that the sea level may rise under this system and cautioned fishermen to stay clear of the open sea till October 3. Besides, it alerted the district authorities that the heavy downpour could cause urban flooding in several districts of Sindh and Balochistan.
Read More: PMD issues heatwave alert for Karachi
On high alert
The previous rain spells this month wreaked havoc on the city’s crumbling road infrastructure. Accumulated rainwater caused logjams on major thoroughfares while some low-lying areas were submerged for hours.
At the ‘rain emergency’ meeting, the KMC, the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB), the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board (SSWMB), deputy commissioners of all districts, the fire department and municipal services director were directed to make arrangements in their respective departments.
The KMC and DMCs were tasked with ensuring availability of fuel and operators for dewatering pumps so accumulated rainwater could be drained swiftly.
Wahab, who is also the Sindh government spokesperson, reviewed the steps taken to improve drainage of rainwater at key points, including Nagan Chowrangi and KDA Chowrangi, Star Gate, Baloch Colony and Soldier Bazaar.
At Nagan Chowrangi, which flooded during a brief spell of rain last week, the city authorities had earlier claimed that the Green Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system’s infrastructure had interfered with the drainage process.
“Work, where it is needed, should be done now as there will be no time after the rain falls,” said Wahab, directing all civic bodies to work in collaboration.
Meanwhile, the Clifton Cantonment Board (CBC) issued a statement to ensure residents that all necessary steps have been taken ahead of the expected rains. “Strategies for dealing with rain emergencies were finalised [at a meeting held on Wednesday],” said a CBC spokesperson. Staff and machinery are present and relief camps have been set up, he added. “A 24-hour helpline will remain functional at the CBC’s Rain Emergency Cell.”
With regards to traffic, which for most commuters in the metropolis, is a frequent menace even without rains, Wahab said that the current system would be overhauled and modernised to overcome difficulties faced now.
He was speaking at the inauguration of a new bus stop at Dou Talwar roundabout.
“There will be no problems if everyone obeys traffic rules,” said Wahab.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 30th, 2021.
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