KARACHI: Both federal and Sindh governments have failed Karachiites. The city continues to remain deprived of basic amenities including clean drinking water and a functional transport system. Only a representative, powerful mayor supported by departmental coordination at all levels can address the city’s plethora of problems.

These views were shared by speakers at a programme — ‘Has the Karachi Transformation Package delivered on its promises to Karachi?’ — jointly organised by the Karachi Citizens’ Forum (KCF) and Pakistan Medical Association at the PMA House on Friday.

Starting off the event, deputy convener Dr Qaiser Sajjad explained the need for the KCF while regretting that the civic situation in Karachi was deteriorating day by day, increasing the city’s disease burden.

“Patient burden on hospitals, clinics, and maternity homes is growing. We think the issues of Karachi could be resolved only through a strong political will and coordination among departments,” he said.

Highlighting the key features of the Rs1.1 trillion KTP, KCF convener Nargis Rehman said city’s five major pending infrastructural development projects — the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR), Bus Rapid Transit System, solid waste management system, three sewage treatment plants and the water supply scheme of K-IV — were to be dealt under a unified strategy and made functional in maximum three years.

“However, three projects remain pending or have been delayed. Two of them, the KCR and the K-IV pending for decades have basic flaws in their designs and their costs have multiplied considerably. The KCR’s old tracks have turned into sewage drains whereas the waste-water treatment plants are rusting,” she said.

The committee set up for the package’s implementation, she pointed out, couldn’t make any progress due to the continued acrimony between the federal and provincial governments.

Karachi, she emphasized, needed an effective local government system represented by its people.

Former Karachi administrator Fahim Zaman was of the opinion that neither the federal government nor the provincial government alone could address city’s issues that had compounded over the years.

“What the city needs is a powerful mayor. Besides, everyone has to work jointly. A strong departmental coordination at all levels is important to make things work,” he said.

Urban planner Mohammad Toheed said the KCR project existed only on paper. The transport needs of the masses could be met through an effective railway system but unfortunately nothing was being done to materialise KCR.

Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2021

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