KARACHI: Weeks before the local government elections and amid a growing demand for an empowered local government system in Karachi, a six-member committee of the federal government on Monday agreed that the country’s business capital was facing serious flaws in administration of municipal services as the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) controlled not even half of the city.
The fresh thoughts were shared by some key members of the federal cabinet and Prime Minister’s Needs Assessment Committee while talking to the media after visiting different rain-affected areas of Karachi.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had formed the special committee to assess damages caused by the recent rains in the country. It is headed by Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman and comprising Federal Minister for IT and Telecom Syed Aminul Haq, Privatisation Minister Abid Hussain Bhayo and three MNAs — Mir Amir Ali Khan Magsi, Syed Ghulam Mustafa Shah and Kesoo Mal Kheel Das Kohistani.
The committee also held meeting with the Karachi commissioner and representatives of the KMC to get briefings about the city’s post-rain situation.
Sherry Rehman says Karachi is experiencing unprecedented climate change event
Talking to reporters, Ms Rehman of the Pakistan Peoples Party said that building resilience in Karachi should be the prime focus of the government as the city had witnessed the worst of disasters during the three monsoon spells.
She was very clear to share her concerns that only 40 per cent of Karachi was being administered by the KMC and the rest of the city’s municipal administration was run by different institutions including cantonment boards, Defence Housing Authority (DHA), etc.
“What we are experiencing in Karachi is another unprecedented climate change event,” she said. “The city has been brought close to a breaking point and unfortunately, we will see more rainfall during August. Karachi recorded a historic over 600mm of rainfall [in July] and it takes much less than that for urban flooding to happen.”
At this point, Federal Minister Syed Aminul Haq of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan came up with details of the discussion the committee had during its meeting with the commissioner and local government officials.
“This committee has representation of all coalition partners,” he said. “There’s a consensus that the only one-third of Karachi is under KMC [control] and the rest is divided among different institutions including cantonment boards, DHA and others.”
He adds: “It’s a consensual suggestion that all organisations operating in Karachi should be brought under the KMC. We will conduct a short-, medium- and long-term needs assessment and give our recommendations on these lines.”
Ms Rehman was asked about her thoughts on the demand of an empowered local government system in Karachi, where her party has been controlling all major municipal and civic organisations, including the Solid Waste Management Board, Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB), Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA).
“I can’t make announcement in my capacity for an empowered local government [system],” she said. “But obviously we are seeing situation on ground and how bad it is.”
“So we need to come together and cooperate with each other during this difficult time and not indulge in turf wars. All of us present here are from different parties and our objective is to stabilise Karachi and provide assistance to those in need,” she said.
Earlier, she said that the federal government would give compensation to those who lost their loved ones and houses.
“The committee is on the visit to different cities of Sindh and will compile its report on the damages caused by the recent rains. We have three days to do this job and on the fourth day, we have to submit the report,” she added.
Minister Haq said on the occasion that the sewerage system in Karachi had collapsed and the government should take this issue seriously.
Karachi Administrator Barrister Murtaza Wahab informed the meeting that about the performance of the KMC during rains.
Later, the committee and officials visited different areas of city including Tower, Korangi River and other areas.
The committee will also be conducting assessments in the flood-hit areas in interior Sindh.
Published in Dawn, August 2nd, 2022