KARACHI: All large billboards in the city are being removed as the city administration prepares to receive its first bout of the monsoon rains.
However, only light to moderate showers are expected to hit the port city on Wednesday night and Thursday with wind speed reaching up to 30 nautical miles starting Tuesday night.
Since large signboards become hazardous during strong winds and have claimed lives in the past, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) started removing several of these on main arteries, such as Sharae Faisal, Karsaz Road, MA Jinnah Road, etc.
"Only dangerous billboards will be removed as they may collapse due to high winds and thunderstorm and can be unsafe for pedestrians also," said Karachi Commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui. He told The Express Tribune that this step is just taken for the few weeks of the monsoon season and all will be fixed after the rain forecast ends for Karachi. "It is for the safety of the people."
The dangerous billboards are the ones that are not properly fixed to the ground or those that do not have holes to let the winds pass through.
Siddiqui said that areas closer to the Arabian Sea are expecting high wind pressure and he has asked the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) officials to remove all dangerous billboards starting Tuesday. CBC spokesperson Amir Arab said, however, that they have yet to make a decision on the removal of signboards in parts of DHA and Clifton. "We will hold a meeting soon," he said.
Later on Tuesday evening, a CBC team ventured out to survey various neighbourhoods in DHA and Clifton and see how many billboards can be deemed dangerous.
Will it rain?
A moderate thunderstorm will hit the city on Wednesday night followed by light and moderate rain that will make the mercury drop by around five degrees, said Pakistan Meteorological Centre's regional director Abdul Rashid. "Winds of 25 to 30 nautical miles will probably enter the city tonight [Tuesday]," said the officer.
According to Rashid, the first rain of this year's monsoon season will come to Karachi on Wednesday and will continue for three days. "No heavy rains are expected in Karachi," he added.
The monsoon winds will enter eastern parts of Sindh on Wednesday and heavy rain is expected in these areas on Wednesday, said S Sarfaraz, the director for the Institute of Meteorology and Geophysics in Karachi. These areas include Sukkur, Larkana, Mirpurkhas, Tharparkar, Sanghar and adjoining areas. The moderate rains in Karachi will last until Friday, he added.
"We cannot predict heavy rains in Karachi right now," said Rashid. "Maybe after Friday, the winds will change their direction and speed and then we can predict some more rain in the city next week," he explained.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2015.