New spell of rain may add to Surjani residents’ miseries in Karachi

Updated August 08, 2019

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A RESIDENT points out how high the water reached during flooding while (right) a stagnant pool of rainwater in Surjani Town.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
A RESIDENT points out how high the water reached during flooding while (right) a stagnant pool of rainwater in Surjani Town.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: The area is mostly dry now, it being almost a week since the rains but you can still see the traces of moisture on the walls, especially where there isn’t any plaster. The bricks are wet right up to the level they were submerged in water. And there are many cracks in these walls which developed only recently. Meanwhile, the vacant plots still look like mini-lakes.

This is what Surjani Town — amongst the most rain-affected areas of Karachi which received 164.9 millimetres, or 6.4 inches, of rain — looked like when Dawn visited the area on Tuesday. The people there say that they have suffered the worst rains and they are afraid that with forecast for more rain with thunderstorms in the coming days, the worst may still be yet to come.

Asked if they had taken any precautions, they only shook their heads. “When the water comes, well it just comes. There is no escaping it,” said Mohammad Ashiq, resident of Karim Dino Goth in Sector 8 of Surjani Town. “We were surrounded by water for four days and couldn’t even leave our homes. There was a complete collapse of the sewerage system here with sewage mixed with the rainwater flooding the area,” he said.

The area was amongst the hardest hit during last week’s rain

‘No one from the govt came’

“When no one from the government came to help drain out the water, I just took a bucket and started taking out the water from my home’s front to throw at a slight distance,” he said. “We were also without any electricity during those four days.”

Mohammad Arif, also a resident of the same area, said that there was trash floating in the sewage. “And the stench from it all was unbearable. On top of that there were just too many mosquitoes. And they are multiplying in the dirty water in the plots,” he pointed out.

Muzammil Awan, who runs a general store in the area, said that he couldn’t get fresh supplies for his store. “Thankfully, we are located on slightly higher ground but to get here the people needed to walk in knee-deep water. And they did to buy milk, eggs, biscuits, etc. Since I couldn’t get fresh supplies for the shop during those four days, they even bought the stale bread I had in the shop even though I warned them that it wasn’t fresh,” he said.

Mukhtar Bibi there said that though she cannot do anything about the flooding in the area, she has however stored up rations in case they all get waterlogged again. With the collapse of the area’s sewerage system, some residents have dug up ditches outside their homes to pour in the dirty water.

Over a dozen houses built on an amenity plot reserved for a park have drain pipes protruding from their walls. Water from there contributes to the flooding in the lanes.

Other areas badly affected by the rains were Ramzan Goth and Yar Mohammad Goth in Lyari. “The water even came into our homes,” said Mahboob Ali, a resident of Ramzan Goth.

“We are not rich people with furniture that could have been ruined in the water. Our meagre belongings comprise our bedding and a few cooking pots and utensils. For two days, we couldn’t cook food in our kitchen so we ate biryani from a nearby stall after being rescued from our homes,” he said, adding that they are absolutely defenceless against such natural calamities.

At a mosque in the area one could see prayer rugs hung out to dry from stairs and overhanging leaves. “With the sky still cloudy and no sun, we hope that the wind will dry the rugs and also lessen the stench coming from them to some extent,” said a man heading towards the mosque for prayers.

Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2019