KARACHI: Government institutions — both provincial and federal — owe more than Rs50 billion to the Karachi Water and Sewerage Corporation (KWSC), fresh data shared by the city mayor shows revealing financial challenges faced by the already cash-strapped organisation.

Because of the financial challenges, the water utility has been finding it hard to manage the growing operational cost of its essential operation, Karachi Mayor Barrister Murtaza Wahab, who is also the chairman of the board of the KWSC, has told Dawn.

Among key defaulters are some of the major state-owned business organisations, which have stopped paying the water supply bills of their hundreds of thousand gallons of consumption, he added.

Barrister Wahab claimed that despite multiple reminders to these government institutions, the dues could not be recovered.

Less than half a million consumers pay their bills regularly for water supply and sanitation services, he added.

“The KWSC has liabilities of Rs52 billion to government institutions, in which the Steel Mill owes the highest amount,” he said.

“The irony is that the power utility has 3.4 million registered consumers while we [KWSC] have only 1.4 million registered consumers despite the fact that millions of people are getting water supply regularly. We should realise our responsibilities. This is the only way to improve the performance of our basic service providers,” he added.

Mayor Wahab became the KWSC chairman after Sindh Governor Kamran Khan Tessori gave his assent to the Karachi Water and Sewerage Corporation (KWSC) Bill, 2023 in July.

The Sindh Assembly on June 8 passed the Karachi Water and Sewerage Corporation Bill, 2023 to transform the water utility into a corporation and a profit-making body.

According to the new law, the city mayor, or administrator of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation will be the chairperson of the board of the KWSC.

The KWSC board, headed by the mayor, will have powers in respect of supplying potable water and disposing of sewage and for that purpose approving plans and projects and management of the corporation’s structure.

The new law also empowers the KWSC to outsource supply of water and maintenance of sewerage or any ancillary services, including communications, complaint management and recovery of user fees and charges from consumers in low-income areas and Katchi Abadis.

However, the decades-old challenges are still giving tough time to the local administration with new powers.

“We are trying our best to fix the system,” said the mayor. “But unfortunately whenever we try with our best, some elements emerge with resistance for the sake of their vested political interests. But we are determined and you would see things changing for the better.”

He also referred to the operation in several areas which unearthed water theft cases and restored water supply in nearby neighbourhoods where the service was not available for decades.

Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2023

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