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Recreation: Beaches of Karachi

August 18, 2013

Among other things that make the summer significant for Karachiites is the beach. No matter how many times we go there we never get enough of it. The beach has always been a great picnic spot. The splashing waves, the magnificence of the sea, the rising and setting of the sun … always a spectacle to behold.

Now that I have grown to notice things beyond sandcastles and splashing water, I have come to realise that I have seen no development at all in that area during these past years. Even basic facilities or rather necessities like sanitation, water taps and car parking are missing.

If you happen to visit the place without a hut, may God have mercy on you. People who own the huts block the way so no car can be parked around them. Be prepared to spend a good part of an hour looking for a safe parking space for your vehicle where it’ll be least susceptible to the plying traffic. You also have to be cautious of street urchins damaging your vehicle knowingly or unknowingly while playing. Consequently, instead of relaxing on the sandy beach, you end up making at least half a dozen trips just to check your car.

Finding a shaded spot to spend your time is another hassle because the only shade present is of the huts, and that of course is for a short period as it shifts with the sun. Secondly, if the hut is occupied it is an invasion of others’ privacy if you set up your things too near their hut. And so you are left with no option but to sit in the sun.

There are no shops present and in case one needs something a round trip of at least 6 to 7 km needs to be made.

It is beyond comprehension why no huts, rooms or shelters are provided by the government on a rental basis for the general public. At present unless you happen to know the owner of some hut you can only dream of having the luxury for the day. These facilities should be available at rates fixed by the government, procurable upon visiting the place. Further all beaches should have first-aid stalls or cabins for emergency cases.

There is a complete absence of garbage disposal facilities and trash can be seen strewn all over the beach often being swept away by the sea. I have yet to see a single dustbin placed by the authorities for trash. If you are really a conscientious citizen you will have to take the trash back with you, otherwise the only choice is to leave it on the beach.

Beaches around the world offer basic facilities such as washroom/ changing facilities, public toilets, shaded benches or cabins. Snacks are usually available within a short distance mostly on the premises. Some beaches rent beach chairs and umbrellas while some even offer snorkelling equipment, paddleboats and kayaks.

What I fail to understand is why the concept of public facilities is so seriously lacking, or should I say non-existent, as far as our public beaches are concerned. The only development I’ve seen is the road that leads you to the place; the road was built, I believe, a decade or more back and is still in reasonable shape. In the past an agonising one hour bumpy drive had to be endured before finally reaching one’s destination.

A lot more needs to be done to improve this simple entertainment to something safer, cleaner and more enjoyable.

Our coast line stretches hundreds of kilometres; I have often wondered why stretches of the beach cannot be sponsored or taken up by private enterprises and developed into something more pleasant. At the Clifton beach the above-mentioned facilities are available to some extent but that beach somehow doesn’t really fulfil the feeling of spending the day at the sea like Sandspit or Hawkesbay, etc. It is in a busy part of the city and the true essence of the sea is somewhat less pronounced there. It would be better if the other beaches are also given some attention. Surely, people will be willing to pay the fee/ ticket in return for the facilities.

Our beaches are an invaluable source of unmatched beauty, leisure and fun not to mention a great prospect for revenue generation for the government if proper planning is adopted. At a time when we are in dire need of revenue such lucrative opportunities should definitely not be ignored. A bit of improvement will garner a two-tier benefit; on the one hand to the government by bringing in revenue and on the other to the picnicking public by making their day.