The brief rain in Karachi may have brought respite to the residents from the humid weather, but the 10 lives it ended up claiming reflects the poor state of affairs of the city administration. Apart from the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and the commissioner’s office, the Defence Housing Authority and the Cantonment Board Clifton authorities, which claim to be efficient managers, were also unable to prevent inconvenience being caused to residents in the aftermath of heavy downpour.
Another problem that emerges in the aftermath of rain are massive power breakdowns, which eventually lead to water shortage in some areas. As the two utilities blame each other every time a fault occurs, the fact remains that both the water board and the power utility are ill-prepared to deal with any out of the ordinary event. The same vicious cycle of facing a problem and then blaming others for it continues instead of trying to develop a permanent solution. The city administration has failed to learn from this experience time and again. Now, the authorities need to ensure that they are better prepared in case more rainfall visits Karachi. However, since much worse disasters have failed to jolt the authorities into action, there is little hope for the future of civic administration in the country’s financial hub.
Interestingly, the KMC admitted to knowing the cause behind inundated roads and poor sewage management, which is encroachment over nullahs. But instead of studying the problem in detail and coming up with a solution that rids Karachi of this menace, the authorities seem to have given up. They seem to be using ‘encroachments’ as an excuse to justify their poor performance, pretending as if removing them is a huge issue that falls outside their jurisdiction. In a city where excuses and blame-games follow every major disaster, there is a desperate need for local government elections and a city mayor, who can oversee the resolution of these issues and can also be held responsible in case of such incidents.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2014.
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