MCI sanitation workers stage a sit-in outside the Mayor’s Office on Monday. — Online
MCI sanitation workers stage a sit-in outside the Mayor’s Office on Monday. — Online

ISLAMABAD: Government lawmakers threatened the capital’s mayor with a dharna on Monday if he did not resolve the issue of sanitation workers’ pending salaries and improve water supply within a month.

Addressing a press conference at the Press Information Department, Prime Minister’s Adviser on Capital Development Authority (CDA) Affairs Ali Nawaz Awan and MNA Raja Khurram Shahzad Nawaz criticised Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz, who is from the PML-N, saying he had failed to resolve the issues being faced by Islamabad’s people.

PTI is in opposition in the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI), while the PML-N is in power.

Mr Awan, who previously served as the opposition leader in the MCI, said it was unacceptable that the corporation has Rs1 billion in its accounts but has not paid sanitation workers, who have been protesting for their salaries for months.

He added that the mayor was paying little attention to measures to overcome the capital’s water shortage.

Mayor says will hold presser today to ‘inform people of reality’

Islamabad is supplied 63 million gallons of water per day (MGD), compared to an overall requirement of 220 MGD.

Mr Awan said 160 out of 192 tubewells are out of order, and most water tankers are not functional, which has added to people’s woes.

Because of poor garbage collection arrangements, the capital will give a dirty look, Mr Nawaz said.

He urged the local government to improve sanitation work.

He added that PTI’s union council chairmen had complained that the mayor was not giving any value to their work.

Earlier during the press conference, Mr Awan said the CDA will initiate several projects, such as the G-7/G-8 underpass, the 7th Avenue interchange and Malal bridge, in the ongoing fiscal year.

After June, the expansion of Islamabad Expressway from Koral to G.T. Road will be the main focus, he added.

The adviser said the CDA is also going to earmark land for a landfill in Sangjani as well as for a slaughterhouse. Various roads will also be carpeted.

Sanitation workers’ strike

Sanitation workers who collect garbage in I-8, I-10 and the Islamabad Expressway are on strike due to non-payment of salaries.

The MCI has failed to pay the contractor, who has subsequently stopped paying workers.

MCI Director Sanitation Sardar Zimri said the MCI had made alternative arrangements for the affected areas by engaging workers in other sectors. He said the salary issue will be resolved soon.

When contacted, Mayor Aziz said the CDA used to loan the MCI money to run its affairs, but when it decided to stop doing so a few months ago the situation resulted in a funding shortage.

When asked about the Rs1bn in its accounts, the mayor said the MCI cannot use this money because the federal government has not approved its financial rules.

“I will hold a presser on Tuesday in response to today’s press conference by PTI MNAs to inform people about the reality,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 16th, 2019