Trenches, dug-up roads pile misery on Karachi’s DHA residents

Published March 26, 2023
Several roads in DHA have been dug-up and closed for vehicular traffic for months in connection with the construction of a storm water drain project. (Top right) A man tries to cross over the road using a ladder as a makeshift bridge on Saturday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Several roads in DHA have been dug-up and closed for vehicular traffic for months in connection with the construction of a storm water drain project. (Top right) A man tries to cross over the road using a ladder as a makeshift bridge on Saturday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

• Many people express doubts over completion of work before arrival of monsoon
• DHA ‘clears’ residents’ misconceptions about storm water drainage project

KARACHI: Several residents of Defence Housing Authority (DHA) have shared their doubts and fears about the Storm Water Drainage Project, which was started here in September of 2022, to deal with monsoon rains. But the DHA has asked all to rest assured as the project is in good hands and that it will lead to betterment.

The project has already been completed in many areas of DHA and it is now that the people are seeing what it actually is as opposed to what they had thought it was going to be. There is also a viral video of a female resident that’s going around. The woman is wondering in the video how the newly laid out drainage system would work because it seems to be leading nowhere.

“They have built trenches. This place has become like a war zone,” the woman says in the video as she worries about people falling into the open ditches in the dark to land on sharp steel bars that can even result in a tragedy.

That is also the fear of countless other DHA residents, who cooperated with the goodness of all their hearts, hoping for the best, when the road outside their main gates was dug up and remained that way for months.

“We were fine with the work. It was really okay as long as we aren’t left to drown in the next monsoon rains,” one resident of DHA Phase VIII told Dawn. “But after they built the underground channels we realised that they were not really leading anywhere. They are more like underground storage tanks. What’s this supposed to mean? Are they going to harvest rainwater under our road with leaky gutter pipes,” he asked.

“Are these trenches for us, to start living underground like moles or rabbits? Is it a way for us to hide from the rain and devastation that it brings along with it now,” asked another resident of Phase VII.

Another resident of Phase VI said that they were worried if the work would even finish before the monsoon rains. “We are facing too many issues on a daily basis because our roads are still dug up. Our cars have had to be parked outside at a distance. They are not safe. Someone even broke the car window of one of our neighbours and yanked out their air-conditioner, music system, front and back cameras,” he narrated.

Explaining the entire project in detail, a DHA spokesperson said that they are not going to harvest rainwater as many are saying.

“Of course the drains are going to flow out. They are storm water drains. In fact, it is an entire drainage system with link drains and interceptors,” the spokesperson pointed out. “The main avenues have the bigger or main drains and the streets and lanes have the smaller drains joined to the main drains with interceptors and link drains,” he explained.

“The problem that we are facing during the work is that there is a high level of subsurface water here. Also, some sewerage lines were found broken. We are replacing them like we replaced the broken lines on Khayaban-i-Ameer Khusro recently, too. During the digging we are also seeing other issues such as the sewerage lines or water lines that may be cracked or broken. And we are replacing and fixing everything as we go,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson continued: “It is taking time, yes. But that is also due to the recent price hike in steel, which led to a break in our steel supply. Then we called the big steel companies here such as Amreli and Faizan as we also need to finish this work. We are now making cash payments to them as a guarantee. And they are giving us 1,000 tonnes of steel a month though our actual requirement is 25,000 tonnes per month.

“The same is the issue with cement though everything is getting sorted out now. The work is going to finish before the monsoon season. The cooperation of our residents is highly appreciated here,” the spokesperson concluded.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2023

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