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KARACHI, Sept 9: The city government has not allowed the Chinese company that has been given the contract to collect garbage from the city and take it to landfill sites for disposal to start work.

Sources said that the city government has asked the Chinese company to first fulfil certain conditions mentioned in the agreement before starting work. They said that the Chinese contractor, on its part had organized the launching ceremony on Aug 31 as the work was to start from Sept 1, and though City Nazim Mustafa Kamal and District Coordination Officer Javed Hanif could not attend, Executive District Officer Masood Alam did manage to attend the launching ceremony held at the Baradari in the old Polo Ground.

The visiting bosses of Shanghai Shengong Environmental Protection Co Ltd (SSEPCL), who had flown in from Shanghai for the function, while taking to Dawn a day before their return home, said that during their almost week-long stay in the city, they could not meet the nazim and the DCO.

Responding to Dawn’s queries, DCO Javed Hanif said that since the Chinese company did not meet the conditions mentioned in the agreement, it was not allowed to start work. “They are already behind schedule and had been asking for extensions in the start-up time and again. The extensions were given,” he said. He added that it appeared that the Chinese company was not fully prepared for the start-up of the operations from Sept 1 so the city government did not allow them to start work as the CDGK did not want the work to be started in a lacklustre manner without improving the prevailing garbage collection system.

When asked about the Chinese firm’s concerns about being unable to meet him, he said that he had held dozens of meetings with them and now, instead of meetings he wanted work to start on the ground.

Missing details

EDO Masood Alam said that the Chinese had not submitted the deployment of staff and equipment plan and details as to how many vehicles had been imported or purchased for the project, while not much had been done on the development of the garbage transfer stations and landfill sites.

“They had not given concrete proof as to how much foreign investment they were bringing in and they were told that they could not pick and choose the workers and that first they had to take all the workers presently working in the garbage-related operations and after some time, if they felt that certain employees were not working properly or efficiently, they could make a complaint and it would be looked into and disciplinary action would be taken.”

He said that the Chinese had been communicated the concerns of the city government regarding their ability to start operations on time (Sept 1) a few days before the launch was scheduled.

A labour leader of the city government workers, Fareed Awan, said that the workers did not allow representatives of the Chinese company to take over operations when they came on Sept 1, as the workers had been instructed by their high-ups that they should continue to work as earlier, as the Chinese company was not being allowed to start operations on Sept 1.

Meanwhile, responding to Dawn’s queries, SSEPCL chief Qian Yu Lin said that Mustafa Kamal had called at the last moment and apologised as he could not attend the launch ceremony. Mr Lin said that his company staff went to the designated towns from where the work was to start, but they were told by the city government officials present there that they (the Chinese) could not take over as CDGK staff had not received orders from their bosses to allow the Chinese firm to start work.

Qian Yu Lin agreed that his company was running behind schedule and could not start work on time due to the slow pace of work in the city. In reference to apparent red-tapism, he said that a task that usually took a day to accomplish in a city like Hong Kong or New York would take more than a week to be completed in Karachi.

He said that certain permissions had to be obtained, which took longer than expected. He said that a number of vehicles had been acquired while many were purchased and were being prepared in workshops. He said that that is why, according to the plan, the project was supposed to start from a few areas and gradually spread to the entire city.

He, however, hoped that the CDGK would allow the Chinese company to start operations soon and the small hiccups would be overcome shortly.