SEWAGE floods a neighbourhood in Martin Quarters on Saturday.—Faysal Mujeeb / White Star
SEWAGE floods a neighbourhood in Martin Quarters on Saturday.—Faysal Mujeeb / White Star

KARACHI: Civil society activists on Saturday expressed serious concerns over the persistent failure of the government in providing Karachi with an efficient sewerage and drainage system that led to horrible post-rain sanitary conditions in the city.

They suggested that these chronic issues should be sorted out under a public-private partnership to bring efficiency, much-needed funds and transparency in affairs.

Organised by the newly formed Karachi Citizens’ Forum, the meeting was held at the PMA House and attended by retired Justice Haziq-ul-Khairi, chief executive officer of the Sindh Healthcare Commission Dr Minhaj Qidwai, Nazim Haji, Advocate Anwar Kashif and others.

Speaking in detail about the post-rain troubles people have been facing in the city, seasoned architect and urban planner Dr Noman Ahmed highlighted the factors which had made the city vulnerable to flooding. He said that several big and small drains were in poor condition as either they had been encroached upon or blocked.

Speakers warn that people will lose hope in political process if blame game continues

Decades of negligence towards the city’s topography, he pointed out, created the mess the city was in right now.

He, however, felt that a viable solution existed if drains were unclogged and rehabilitated and some more drains were developed.

Rainwater harvesting

To a question regarding rainwater harvesting, he said that rainwater could be conserved through different cost-efficient techniques and the concept was urgently needed to be implemented in a city like Karachi facing chronic water shortages.

He said it would support and encourage the agriculture sector, which is currently in dire straits.

During the discussion, speakers regretted that the issues pertaining to public health and sanitation had been greatly politicised and were being used by political parties to further their respective agendas.

They had a consensus over the premise that the state of sanitation and hygiene in Karachi had deteriorated to alarming levels, endangering public health, and that this required a permanent solution.

One of the suggestions agreed upon in the meeting was that the government should opt for a public-private partnership to tackle these issues as it would bring much-needed funds, transparency and ownership.

Nargis Rehman of the Pakistan Women’s Foundation for Peace was of the opinion that committees should be formed in each and every neighbourhood so that people could participate in the process and get the municipality do its job.

Dr Qaiser Sajjad of the Pakistan Medical Association emphasised the need for creating public awareness and said the people were the real stakeholders in these issues and should be taken on board.

“They should be guided on their role and educated about how they should safely dispose of the waste generated daily at homes,” he said, adding that the forum would meet and invite politicians from the Pakistan Peoples Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and representatives of cantonment boards to their programme.

“We want all of them on one page for Karachi’s welfare. Right now, political parties are engaged in a blame game. If this continues, living conditions in the city would further worsen and people will lose hope in the political process,” he said.

The forum, he said, would act as a pressure group on civic issues, broaden its members and take up matters with the relevant stakeholders.

Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2019