KARACHI: The Meteorological Office recorded that Sharae Faisal received the most rain on Wednesday, 45mm. But if you asked people from anywhere else in the city, they’d tell you that it felt like a lot more.
Within minutes of the pounding rain, roads across Karachi were inundated, bringing with it the usual power outages, traffic jams, stalled cars and missing food deliveries.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the rain,” said Anam, who travelled from his house near the Super Highway to Defence View in a taxi with his windows down, “The trip that usually takes 45 minutes took two hours but it was worth it.”
This was not the case with healthcare seekers. Several hospitals were surrounded by water as pools collected outside their main gates. Suffering for patients was multiplied by the difficulty in entering and exiting these hospitals, which included Jinnah hospital, National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases and the National Institute of Child Health.
Other centres along the Rafiqui Shaheed Road were also flooded. The water also caused a terrible traffic jam on the road, leading to several ambulances getting stuck in the gridlock of honking vehicles. The rain also dampened spirits and people at Civil Hospital Karachi, Subhraj and Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.
People on motorcycles were drenched not just by the rain but by muddy waves left in the wake of speeding cars. “It was terrible at I I Chundrigar Road,” said Yasir. “I was stuck in traffic for around an hour. The road was blocked all the way to CM House.”
He also complained that mechanics were overcharging people. “They were charging Rs100 to Rs150 just to restart someone’s bike.” According to Yasir, it was a simple procedure involving opening a valve and using some grease, “which costs Rs10”, to restart a motorcycle. But the mechanics seized the chance to up their prices, knowing that the bikers did not have much of a choice.
“They charged me Rs60 to fix a puncture,” he said, “something that usually costs around Rs30 to Rs40.”
Monsoons are definitely good for mechanics. According to Fahad Abdul Qayyum, a mechanic in Gizri, who has been working for 10 years, mechanics stock up on common spare parts of cars before the rainy seasons start. It’s a booming time for them. “We get so busy that we don’t even have the time to eat,” Qayyum commented. “We barely finish with one car when another customer comes in with his car. In these cases, we only tend to regular customers.”
According to a KESC spokesperson, the rain caused 90 feeders in some areas to trip but unscheduled power outages were kept to a minimum.
The rain did not affect the flight schedule too severely. There were minor delays because of the weather conditions but only one flight was delayed for a longer period. “The Lahore-bound PIA flight was supposed to take off at 10 pm and is now expected to leave by 1:30 am,” informed an official at the flight inquiries at Jinnah International Airport.
Other places in Sindh, including Thatta and Hyderabad, also received rainfall. According to APP, a heavy downpour started in Thatta late Tuesday night and continued on and off all Wednesday. Most of the city was submerged in a mix of sewage and rainwater due to the ineffectual drainage system.
A 35-year-old man and an eight-year-old were killed in the rain that took Karachi by surprise on Wednesday.
The child drowned when he fell into a pool of rainwater that had collected at block 5, Gulistan-e-Jauhar. According to the police, the child’s identity could not be ascertained. They suspected that the children had been playing in the rain when the accident occurred.
The second incident occurred within the limits of Jackson Police Station when a motorcyclist slipped on the ICI Bridge and an unidentified vehicle ran over him.
He was identified as Sajid Nazir, 35. He was a factory worker.
Governor calls for rain preparations
Governor Sindh Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan said that a strategy has been chalked out to deal with the monsoons. He directed local governments, KESC and HESCO, health and other departments and organisations to take prompt relief measures in emergency situations. He urged that extra attention must be directed towards low-lying areas. He also directed to ensure availability of doctors, paramedics and necessary medicines at healthcare centers across the province.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2010.