KARACHI: There is more to Shershah than the reported killings, firing and robberies. What most people forget is that it has one of the largest industrial areas of the city that stretches from Mauripur Road all the way to SITE.
Spare parts, tyres, rear view mirrors, coal, life jackets – you name it, they got it.
For Rs70, a truck driver can get his truck and cargo weighed before he hits the highway.
Abdul Rasheed, who has been working with trucks and weighing trucks for over 10 years, said that the truck weighing or kanta system is a computerised process where the truck and the load on it was weighed separately. “It started in 1992 and I think it is quite useful,” he said. “You can see these weighing stations along the highway as well, right after the toll plaza. The highway authorities use them to check a truck’s load and to check if they’re staying within the limits. We weigh about 100 to 150 truck daily.” He added that the businessmen and government introduced the weighing system to decrease smuggling.
While explaining how the trucks were weighed, Rasheed said that he had three employees who worked eight-hour shifts. “They basically sit in a room with the computer and when a truck drives up to the ramp, we make the driver park in a way that it covers four spots,” he explained. “The sensors tell us the weight of the truck and the items on it within minutes.”
Recharge your battery
A bit further down the same road is Khan Baba. He has been in the recycling car battery business for the last nine years. “We don’t do much. I get the labour, they sit in front of the shop to dismantle the batteries and reassemble them,” he said. “I hire five men for a daily wage of Rs150. They work for eight to 10 hours a day with breaks in between.” Khan Baba added that he bought used batteries for Rs180 per four kilogrammes and sold them to battery manufacturers for twice the price.
Turning scraps to business
In one of the many narrow lanes of Shershah is Rashid, also known as Molvi. He goes to the beach every day. Not only does he like the fresh air, but he likes the scraps he can pick up at the ship breaking yard.
“I have been going there for eight years or so,” he said. “It is a wonderland. There are so many things to pick. Life jackets, lanterns, ropes, boots, clocks, chairs and loudspeakers.” He added that he sold life jackets for Rs300 and other items for over Rs450 depending on their condition.
“Most of my customers are men who like to go fishing,” he said with a chuckle. “Sometimes these seth sahib also come here. They buy loudspeakers by the dozen. They claim it helps them keep their employees in check.”
As you drive out of the maze of Shershah’s narrow lanes, you come across a plot with over 40,000 sacks of coal. Two men stand outside night and day to keep an eye out for trespassers as Ali and his brother load their truck to make deliveries for their father. “We get orders from hotels and restaurant owners. They call us three or four days in advance to place an order,” said Shahzaib. “My father and his brother get the coal from rural Sindh, mostly Badin. The rates differ but at the moment we are selling 40 kilogrammes of coal for Rs850.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 11th, 2012.