And then the wind blew

Published May 19, 2021
PEOPLE rush home on Tuesday after the dust storm fearing the worst.
—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
PEOPLE rush home on Tuesday after the dust storm fearing the worst. —Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: That’s 21st century Karachi for you: from scorching and suffocating heat to gusty and dusty winds … in the blink of an eye. On Monday, citizens bore the brunt of the hottest day of the ongoing year, and news was that similar weather was likely to continue for one more day. On Tuesday afternoon, while it was still pretty sultry, if you were out in the street, it didn’t seem as bad as it was on Monday. And then a little before quarter to five in the evening, suddenly dark clouds hovered all over the city and a strong wind began to pick up, uprooting many a tree and signboard in its wake. It even rained in some areas. To be honest, despite the imminent destruction, there was cheerfulness all around — at least the sun had relented.

Tuesday’s climatic shift was not entirely surprising. For the last six or seven days the Met department was busy trying to figure out whether Cyclone Tauktae, which was taking an ominous shape around Indian shores, would hit Karachi and other parts of Sindh. So there was a fair degree of preparedness that could be sensed in the power corridors as instructions were being given at the provincial level about how to deal with the situation. Experts came to the conclusion that the cyclone was not going to affect Pakistan. However, the conditions that were being shaped by it in the neighbouring country were to impact us in some way, of which Tuesday’s rain and dust storm was an indicator.

No one has forgotten what havoc last year’s torrential rains wreaked on Karachi

Now, this has to be taken seriously by the Sindh and federal governments, and by the different administrative units and utility companies that are operating in the province. No one has forgotten what havoc last year’s torrential rains wreaked on Karachi. There were neighbourhoods where electricity was restored after more than 70 hours. The provincial government and K-Electric should make arrangements on war footing to pre-empt episodes that could make citizens’ lives miserable.

At a seminar held recently, a K-Electric official claimed that 75 per cent of the city of Karachi these days does not experience loadshedding. This may be true. Sadly, immediately after Eid social media was abuzz with complaints of hours-long power outages. It’s time our authorities and service providers proved we’re part of a civilised world … so that people can enjoy something as romantic as the rain.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2021

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