KARACHI: Claiming that they are not the ‘tanker mafia’ as they are dubbed, the All Karachi Water Tankers Ittehad came out to present “the real picture behind the water crisis and high rates of tankers in the city” to the media at the Karachi Press Club on Thursday.
“It hasn’t stopped raining in Kashmir, so the rivers haven’t gone dry. This water shortage is just artificially created to fill the pockets of certain high-ups in the government. And there is an automated teller machine here providing the money to these hidden faces,” said Mohammad Tariq Sadozai, president of the AKWTI.
He then named a KWSB official whom he blamed for the crisis.
“It is strange that the KWSB bulldozes a hydrant and a few months later another new hydrant comes up in the very same place. Whoever pay them more gets the hydrant and NOC,” he said.
“Gratis water, the water board’s way of providing water to poor people not receiving water through the lines, is also stolen. The KWSB pays the hydrants for these gratis tankers but this water is no longer reaching the poor. Instead it is going to the VIPs, and the KWSB, which is going bankrupt already, is paying the hydrants for it,” he said.
“Such problems can be easily controlled by handing over the management of the hydrants to the Rangers. We have written letters to the prime minister, the chief of the army staff and the Rangers asking them to look into this matter. We got a positive response from the Rangers, who said they would help us. But we are still waiting for that to happen.
“Our tankers weren’t expensive but tell us how are we to survive when we can only sell one tanker in one or two days. There is the driver’s salary, the tanker fuel and what not. So we ask for one tanker what we used to earn from three to four trips. Still it is far less than the hydrants’ own tankers, which are charging up to Rs12,000,” Mohammad Sharif said.
The AKWTI said that they would have to seriously review their options. “When we are not doing any business and being mistaken as ‘tanker mafia’ also why not just stop working? There will be no blocking of roads by our tankers as we don’t believe in inconveniencing people. We’ll just park our 8,000 or so tankers in our homes and garages and that is it. Let the 200 hydrant and their contractor tankers, the real mafia, provide water to the city. We will review this decision on May 14,” he said.
Meanwhile, the AKWTI president appealed to the Sindh government to intervene. “I appeal to the Sindh government, especially PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, to help save Karachi from turning into a desert. Your mother and grandfather promised us ‘roti, karpa aur makaan’ and you can’t even provide water to the people of Karachi?” he said.
Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2015