KARACHI, March 9: The Karachi Water and Sewerage Board agreed to reopen six of the 25 closed hydrants following a massive protest orchestrated by water tanker operators on Friday.

Vehicular traffic proceeding towards Karsaz, Quaid-i-Azam International Airport and onwards came to a standstill on Sharea Faisal in the afternoon rush hour when owners of water tankers protesting against the closure of KWSB hydrants parked their vehicles on the road in front of the water utility’s main office, situated at 9th Mile Karsaz.

Not only the motorists driving towards the main Karsaz Road, the airport, Malir, Quaidabad and the National Highway remained stuck on the road for hours, but some of the adjacent main thoroughfares, including Tipu Sultan Road, Shaheed-i-Millat Road and the major streets leading to Mohammad Ali Society and Adamjee Nagar, also witnessed severe snarl-ups from 3pm to 7pm.

The road blockade not only caused immense hardship to people returning home from work, but also forced public transport to change their routes, as a result of which a large number of commuters remained stranded at various bus stops on Sharea Faisal.

Ambulances were also stuck in traffic jams not only on Sharea Faisal, but also in the adjacent arteries.

A large number of tankers, parked in the middle of Sharea Faisal, near the Lal Qila restaurant, in response to a call by the Karachi Water Tankers Owners Association, were, however, moved away at around 6pm after KWSB managing director Misbahuddin Farid agreed to reopen six of the total 25 hydrants following negotiations with a delegation of the KWTOA at his office.

The KWSB chief told Dawn that after his meeting with representatives of the association he had agreed to reopen six hydrants of the utility on conditions that the KWTOA members would neither draw water from the hydrants beyond the scheduled timings, nor would get more than the quota allocated to them.He said the office-bearers of the association had also been told not to overcharge their customers. Besides, he said, they would have to repair leaking nozzles of their tankers to save roads from becoming slippery.

According to the association’s general secretary, Huzoor Bakhsh, the six KWSB hydrants to be reopened immediately are located in Garden, Sakhi Hassan, NIPA, Landhi and Lalazar.

Earlier, Mr Farid told Dawn that the utility had to close the hydrants in view of growing complaints from water consumers.

A heavy police contingent was deployed at the KWSB main office to prevent any untoward situation.

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