If the employees of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) remain unpaid, the city will miss its annual cleaning spree ahead of Eid.
With monsoon season also around the corner, the city nullahs are clogged and garbage dumping sites have grown in numbers and size. “Look at our area, it looks like a garbage dump,” said Peter James, a resident of Christian Colony in North Nazimabad Block Q, as he pointed towards a garbage heap near at Asghar Ali Shah Stadium.
Once a popular venue for cricket matches, the stadium is now dotted with piles of waste. Instead of disposing it of at landfill sites, the workers of KMC dump the garbage here and then set it on fire, claimed James. Most residents feel that garbage pick-up has been outsourced to private companies that fail to dump it on landfill sites regularly.
The solid waste of the district municipal corporations is dumped at different places from where the little Afghan scavengers burn it, pointed out an employee of the KMC, on the condition of anonymity.
The KMC official blamed the private contractors on the piling heaps of garbage. In order to save fuel, these private contractors dump all the garbage at one place.
After a month when the garbage heap resembles a mountain, they dump it at landfill sites, he explained.
Meanwhile, the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) has also failed to make any formal contingency plans in case of unexpectedly high rainfall. An official from the DHA insisted that the situation in their area is clear and there are no threats of flooding, due to the newly constructed drainage system.
According to the KMC employees union president, Zulfiqar Shah, the administration has yet to start cleaning the nullahs and dump solid waste at landfill sites. This will be hazardous when monsoon rains start in the city, he said.
“The administration does not have enough money to pay for the fuel of mechanical vehicles and pay salaries to the employees,” he added. On court orders, the administration will be paying their salaries within 10 days, said Shah, hopefully adding that the situation in the city may improve after that.
For their part, the KMC insists it needs more funds. The government has yet to release Rs500 million to KMC so that it can start cleaning the city, said KMC municipal services senior director, Masood Alam. Denying that the municipality failed to clean nullahs and dump solid waste, Alam said that, “The workers of the KMC are working in their capacity even though they have yet to be paid for June and July.”
Meanwhile, the finance and planning director Munawar Imam told The Express Tribune that the Sindh government used to give a grant of Rs500 million every month, while in addition to it, the KMC would receive Rs320 million from its Octroi contract. A total of Rs820 million was enough to provide salaries to KMC employees, he explained.
During the current financial year, the employees of the KMC are, however, facing problems due to bureaucratic hurdles. The finance department of the KMC first sends a summary to the chief secretary, who later sends it to the chief minister for his final approval, Imam said. This procedure takes a long time and that is why the workers haven’t been paid for the past four months, he explained.
Imam admitted that the workers are not disposing of garbage at landfill sites or cleaning up drains since they have not received their salaries.
Now that the court has ordered the release of the grant money, the cleaning will start soon, he promised.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2013.