Govt’s neglect, rains leave Karachi's North Nazimabad in a shambles

Published September 19, 2022
The road in this part of North Nazimabad has developed potholes due to recent rains.
—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
The road in this part of North Nazimabad has developed potholes due to recent rains. —Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: While most residents of the metropolis daily bemoan the fact that the city of lights is fast becoming one of the least liveable cities in the country because of pathetic civic facilities and many other reasons, with the advent of monsoon rains, the grief becomes a collective thought overpowering every individual in the metropolis.

As the city is devastated by torrential rains, so is North Nazimabad, despite the fact that the area was a well-designed, well-planned, well-structured and smartly architected neighbourhood of the city.

The streets in the neighbourhood are still inundated with rainwater and sewage since the start of monsoon while hardly any effort is made by authorities concerned to clear the streets and repair the potholes and broken roads.

The residents of the area are in dismay and feel deprived of only because of the criminal neglect of relevant agencies of the government.

Residents in dismay as no effort is seen to restore civic facilities

North Nazimabad, which was developed in late 1950s by Karachi Improvement Trust – later replaced by Karachi Development Authority – for the federal employees living in the then capital, Karachi, was planned and designed by the finest Italian architects and designers of the 20th century — Carlo Scarpa and Aldo Rossi.

It was divided in several blocks, denoted with alphabets, having houses ranging from 240 sq yards to 2,000 sq yards. There are many apartment complex in almost every block of North Nazimabad.

Once among the city’s affluent localities, North Nazimabad is now no better than the slum areas or like a goth.

The area was then made open to the general public after the capital was shifted to Islamabad in the 1960s. However, the condition of the area, which lies under district Central, deteriorated by the time.

North Nazimabad starts from Board Office Chowrangi with Block-A on the left side while Block-B on the right side and ends at Sakhi Hasan Chowrangi with Block-J on one hand while Block-N on the other.

The condition of the area has deteriorated with each passing year, witnessing damaging roads, destroyed infrastructure, scarcity of utilities, poor sewerage system, high-rise buildings which have turned the area into a concrete jungle, massive commercialisation, open and unfenced drains and piles of garbage lying on roads and streets.

The area also proved to be a prime location for the illegal construction of portions.

Almost all streets in North Nazimabad are broken and a majority of them are littered with garbage; the development work on the drain (right) near Fiver Star Chowrangi has been under way for the past many months, causing a great deal of problems to road users.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Almost all streets in North Nazimabad are broken and a majority of them are littered with garbage; the development work on the drain (right) near Fiver Star Chowrangi has been under way for the past many months, causing a great deal of problems to road users.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

Destroyed sewerage system and roads

The sewerage system has been destroyed and the streets having houses costing no less than Rs80 million and up to almost Rs20m are seen inundated with sewage across the year.

The condition just gets worse in rains when the drains overflow and the rainwater mixing with sewage gets stagnant on roads and streets which stays there until it is evaporated. This stagnant water, even if evaporated, leaves deep potholes, which again, never gets repaired.

The road from Five Star Chowrangi to Landikotal was recently constructed under which the open storm-water drain was covered. During all rain spells rainwater was not seen standing there.

However, residents complained that all the streets along the main artery were submerged by rainwater because water flowed there from the main road.

And even if they do, just like they did before the recent monsoon season in different blocks, including Block-B and Block-D, it doesn’t stay for long and sink with the first spell of rain it encounters.

A resident of North Nazimabad Block-D, Bilal Irfan, said: “The roads in the area had some destroyed patches, but then the administration decided to fix it and carpet the entire road. So, in the bid, they also dug the road which, earlier, was fine, and then constructed the entire road. It took two days of rain to destroy the newly constructed road. Now, it is in a worse shape than it was earlier. It is almost unmotorable.”

Similarly, Abiha Fatima from North Nazimabad Block-B shared: “It is not long ago that the street I live in was constructed. The first monsoon spell was enough for it. Now, the condition is even worse. There are deep potholes opened at different places. In the back street of Hyderi Super Market, the water is stagnant and there are deep puddles. Rickshaws use that street and they can easily turn over, it is that deep.”

Unfenced storm-water drains

Also, the storm-water drains in different areas are open and unfenced which put the residents at risk.

The road between Block-M and Block-N, from Madras Bakery to the Karachi Medical and Dental College has open drains, which are not covered.

Leaving the health hazard it poses to the residents aside, during the current spells of rains the nullah and the road seems equal due to the inundation of the road and overflow of the drain, which makes it impossible to see where the drain is.

This is not just an isolated case as most roads, including one leading from Peoples Chowrangi to the Taimuria police station and another from North Nazimabad Gymkhana to Hyderi Market are also in the similar condition.

“All the adjoining streets have puddles, the roads have been destroyed completely, and more importantly, the nullah here is all unfenced, surrounded by massive heaps of garbage, and you can see, all this is in front of a girls’ college,” said a resident of Block M. “Go from 2-K bus stop to the other end of the road and help me find one fence on the drain. The nullah and the road are on the same level. The ragpickers, who collect garbage from homes, they dispose it of all here on the road. There is a market just a few steps ahead, there is a college right here, this is one of the most expensive blocks of North Nazimabad, and this is how things are here.”

The ‘state-of-the-art’ bus service, Green Line Bus Rapid Transit System, has also played its part in agonising the residents. First, it was Sharah-i-Sher Shah Suri, one of the routes used by bus, which is the central road for residents, remained disturbed for more than five years as the route for the BRT was under construction.

Another thing is that the route has been built on the green belt which had trees. Resultantly, the trees were cut off, and it was promised by the stakeholders that after the completion of the project, trees would be planted, but that never happened.

Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2022

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