It is ironic for the people of Lyari when the top leadership of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) tweet that Lyari is close to their heart; that they feel at home with the women and children. For these very women and children are battling various diseases courtesy of the overflowing gutters and sewerage lines that have defaced the neighbourhood in spite of the tall claims by the PPP government of having spent billions of rupees on its development.
For Benazir Bhutto, Lyari was her second home. Had she seen its condition today, the great leader would have hung her head in shame.
Sewage water flows freely and settles at the lowest point in most areas of PS-108 from where PPP's Muhammad Jawaid Nagori won the last election. No one has ever won against the PPP's nominated candidates from this constituency.
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The residents, particularly the children, have developed skin diseases in Union Councils 1 and 2. Dozens of children have large boils and rashes visible on their faces and arms. The wastewater on Juma Baloch and Suleman Azaz Road has made the lives of residents miserable. "It is the same in all the streets," said Haji Ibrahim, a resident of Juma Baloch Road. "Our children play outside the homes from where they contract skin diseases," he explained, adding that around 50 children near his home had developed skin diseases over the last few months.
Sores and rashes
Ibrahim told The Express Tribune that wastewater was not a new issue in his area. "These roads and streets have been flooded for the last eight months." He said that the residents have on several occasions complained to the area's MPA, Nagori, and MNA, Shahjehan Baloch. The complaints have been forwarded to the relevant authorities, but all in vain.
"We are the PPP's voters. Lyari is the only town from where the ruling party swept all three seats," he explained. "Look around you; do you feel like you are standing in the provincial capital?" he asked, pointing towards the stagnant water.
"A clean street is like a dream for us," said Shoaib Ahmed, a resident of Suleman Azad Road. "Our children and women are facing a number of problems, including skin diseases," he added. "The PPP leadership just shows their affection through tweets," he said, apparently mocking Aseefa Bhutto Zardari's tweets after her visit to Lyari General Hospital on Sunday. "They see whatever the local leadership wants to show them."
Muhammad Hussain, a father of two children, said that doctors had advised him to keep his children indoors. "It is not possible for me to leave my home," he said.
Unfortunately, the children purchase eatables and confectionaries from push-carts crossing the stagnant sewage water, while elders sit at shops and roadside hotels along streets that are knee-deep in the muck. It seems that the people of this particular area consider the trash and wastewater around them as a routine part of life.
Nagori is well aware of the issue. "It is because of load-shedding," he reasoned. The K-Electric cut the electricity to the pumping station, which is why the gutter lines overflowed, he attempted to explain.
Explaining the main cause of the problem, Nagori said that the overall sewerage system was disturbed because of the Pitcher and Kalri nullahs. "The sewerage system won't be resolved till these nullahs are cleaned."
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According to him, he has raised the issue of cleanliness of his constituency at different platforms. "Yes, it is not a new issue and I know it is creating major health problems for residents," he accepts. "This problem isn't just limited to Lyari. It is one of the biggest and most serious issues plaguing the city," he maintained.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2015.