KARACHI: As the monsoon season approaches, the city is preparing itself to meet the possible wrath of the weather.
Commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui alerted all the municipal departments during a high-level meeting on Monday and asked them to take immediate precautionary measures ahead of the rains.
Fearing heavy rainfall, Siddiqui ordered that the drains, particularly those of Manzoor Colony, Machar Colony, Lyari, Korangi and Nazimabad, be cleared. "They should be cleaned before the first drop of rain falls," he said, adding that all the hoardings and billboards, which usually become the cause of several deaths during rainfall, should be removed immediately.
During the meeting, a K-Electric representative gave assurances that residents will be safe from the any mishaps involving the electricity installations in the city. Talking to The Express Tribune, K-Electric spokesperson Usama Qureshi pledged to launch public safety campaigns to teach people to stay away from such installations in the rain in order to avoid fatalities due to electric shock.
Read: Before the rain: ‘WASA well prepared for monsoon emergencies’
Meanwhile, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) municipal department senior director Masood Alam told The Express Tribune that the department has planned to deal with rain-related problems in three phases.
According to him, the first phase of 'pre-rain measures' is taking place rapidly. "The cleaning of all the stormwater drains of the city has been started," he claimed. However, he admitted that the city will come to a standstill if there is heavy rainfall.
In the second phase, which pertains to addressing problems during the rainfall, Alam said that pumps will be installed to drain the water as around 47 of the drains have choked.
Explaining the third phase that pertains to 'post-rain measures', he said that they will try to rescue people if they get stuck somewhere and will take measures against the spread of mosquitoes bearing the dengue virus.
Talking about the removal of billboards and hoardings in the city, he said that there were 27 agencies working on civic issues in Karachi, which is spread over 3,600 square kilometres. "KMC's limit is only 33 per cent of the city," he pointed out, adding that their billboards are of only 10-by-20 square feet and 15-by-45 square feet, which he claimed were 'not that dangerous'. "The billboards on Sharae Faisal and Metropole [signal] are huge, but these areas do not fall in our jurisdiction."
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Rain Emergency Plan
KWSB chalks out strategy
The Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) has also prepared a ‘Rain Emergency Plan’ as a precautionary measure even though it is not actually mandated to look after the city’s drainage system.
The water board’s plan is to maximise the efficiency of its sewerage cleaning system that usually overflows during the rainfall. The KWSB’s deputy managing director of technical services, Iftikhar Ahmed Khan, told The Express Tribune that their department only looks after the sewerage lines on a regular basis. “Our job is to make sure that the pumping stations in low-lying areas work efficiently.”
According to him, there are around 14 pumping stations in the city for sewerage lines, and the job of KWSB during rainfall is to make sure that these pumping stations have sufficient diesel in case of power outages. “These stations pump the sewerage water, which often doubles if it rains,” he said. He added that the KWSB’s sewerage lines were sensitive and when the KMC’s rain drainage lines get choked, rainwater makes its way through these lines, bringing mud and garbage together, thus choking KWSB’s sewerage lines as well.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2015.