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KARACHI: Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Zaidi on Sunday inaugurated the two-week ‘Let’s Clean Karachi’ campaign and appealed to the people of the teeming metropolis to support the PTI-led government’s initiative to get rid of the heaps of garbage from the city. The Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) has been lined up to spearhead the drive.

“This campaign shows good intentions of our government ... but I must say this city’s problems cannot end until we rein in its unplanned growth,” said the minister while addressing the inaugural ceremony at the Karachi Port Trust head office.

Mayor Wasim Akhtar and leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement also attended the ceremony.

Mr Zaidi said the campaign was being run in two phases; in the first phase the heavy machinery supplied, operated and overseen by the FWO would be used to completely clean stormwater drains and, in the second phase, hundreds of katchi abadis in the city would be covered.

Thanking the army for assigning the FWO collaboration, he said the grand initiative would require at least 15,000 volunteers who could shoulder the FWO and other agencies engaged in the campaign.

“[PTI and MQM] MNAs and MPAs along with the municipal bodies concerned would be there to assist the people in the job.”

He said the KPT along with Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, had also cleaned drains on its land, yet, because of not lifting and disposing of garbage, it made its way into drains again and failed the authorities in their bid to clean the city.

“We want to show [the Sindh government] at least once that ‘if there is a will there is a way’; we will clean the city and leave it on the provincial government to maintain it in future.”

He said the city’s cleanliness was a huge call to respond to for which heavy machinery was required and would now be provided by the FWO.

The FWO, he added, had held long meetings with the city’s local bodies and had chalked out a plan how to make it a success.

Speaking about the hundreds of katchi abadis in the city, Minister Zaidi said, more than half of the city’s population lived in those unplanned neighbourhoods and they were the most challenging areas. He said until an effective master plan was devised and implemented, the city’s problems would continue to haunt everyone.

“This is not possible for the federal government to do on its own only,” he said and added, “people should help our teams and volunteers to lift garbage from their respective areas and hand it to over to the waiting dumpers”. He appealed to the people not to use plastic bottles, polythene bags, etc.

Mayor Wasim Akhtar said because of scarce financial resources at his disposal, it was not humanly possible for him to get the city cleaned on his own.

Despite that, he added, the KMC had cleaned the city’s drains, which was why they did not overflow during the recent rains.

He rubbished the Sindh government’s demand that the KMC should furnish details of its expenditures, adding, his office had duly sent those financial details to the provincial authorities.

“After receiving constant refusals from the Sindh government for the required funds, I was forced to urge the maritime affairs minister in writing to help us out, because his ministry was managing two ports in the city,” he said.

He said almost every penny given to the KMC was being spent on paying the salaries and pensions of workers while the Sindh government gave meagre funds for development.

“Everyone should ask the Sindh government where Karachi’s money is going.”

He said he would fully support the cleanliness campaign.

Published in Dawn, August 5th, 2019