With the sewage system in many areas of Rawalpindi outdated and dysfunctional, many localities present flood-like situations whenever there is downpour.
The civic authorities have to pump rainwater out of streets in many neighbourhoods.
Schools in Fazal Town arguably suffer the most due to flooded streets. “It was like a slow cyclone here. School vans couldn’t drop the children at the schools near TCS Stop as the road was flooded with rainwater and sewage. The vans just took the kids back home,” said Amina Shah, a local schoolteacher.
“The aging sewerage system can’t keep up with the load. It sends raw sewage onto the roads whenever it rains heavily. The infrastructure has collapsed in some parts of the city,” says Karamat Hussain, a shopkeeper in Tali Mori area.
“Heavy rain can quickly overwhelm the sewerage system in old city areas and some newly-developed colonies. The authorities do not care to clear the drains of garbage. The upshot is that even moderate rain inundates the city,” says Asad Reza, a civil engineer and Saddar resident.
The authorities, on the other hand, blame local residents, saying that they throw trash into the streets and sewers.
“You can often see litter strewn on the roads when garbage bins are only a few feet away,” said Rana Shabbir, a Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB) official. At the same time, he said, “RCB has stopped street sweeping services because it cannot pay sweepers.”
Nawaz Asif, another RCB official, admitted that the board had failed to put an effective drainage system in place. “It has left citizens at the mercy of nature. Uncontrolled population growth and unplanned urbanisation are also the reasons behind the crippled sewerage system. The present population is far more that the drainage system was meant to cater to. For now, we are trying to repair the existing system within our means,” he added.
Safdar Ali of the Chaklala Cantonment Board (CCB) says, “Fixing the problem isn’t an easy task. Satellite Town and some adjoining localities spent four decades and millions of rupees separating and upgrading their sewage lines. As pipes and other parts of the system age, the cost to maintain them goes up manifold.”
“The city needs major infrastructure improvement. The solution could be building larger sewers and separation of storm drains from sewage drains. It’s a daunting task. Besides, we are weighed down by shortage of funds,” said Malik Azmat, an official from the Tehsil Municipal Administration.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2014.