Rain exposes lack of civic amenities, K-E, and bureaucracy’s disinterest

Salahuddin Haider

RAINS came to Karachi after long, long wait, but constant downpour from Friday afternoon to Saturday evening, instead of being a relief to people, became a source of discomfort for them because of bureaucracy’s proverbial disinterestedness and failure of the civic agencies to rise to the occasion.
They all seemed unprepared and unwilling to do their duty. K-E, the largest single power supply agency, remained oblivious to its obligations, as a result of which over 400 transformers and grid stations tripped, plunging more three-fourth of the mega city into darkness.
Bought for Rs 6 billion, peanut for such huge utility service, the former Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC), renamed now as K-E, never published its accounts to prove its repeated claim of being the most effective and efficient organisation. Instead it concentrated on recoveries and overcharged billing from consumers, facing court petitions, and still remaining adamant as incompetent organisation.
It is now up for sale to a Chinese company for a fabulous Rs a trillion and several billion rupees, The government, working through a monitoring agency like NEPRA, remained indifferent to the plight of the Karachiites. K-E under previous management in which Siemens were the principal partners, did nothing to rebuild the system which was the main purpose for privatization of a government service, After parting company with Siemens, it changed hands, and even the present management remained in deep slumber. Waking up, rather belatedly to their primary responsibilities, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, and Mayor Waseem Akhtar toured the Karachi localities when the city was already in a deluge, its thoroughfares under ankle to knee-deep water, causing traffic disruptions, and paralyzing business and commercial life.
They went from area to area, separately, and yet the result was zero. Nothing happend, nothing changed. Officials of KMC, water and sewerage board, claimed they were on duty to ensure relief to people, but merely on paper. Roads were inundated, drainage system which former Mayor Mustafa Kamal, had changed completely, was choked because of inattention of 8 years of persistent rule by a particular party.
Kamal in five years had changed the face of Karachi, renovated the archaic drainage system, laid down fresh underground pipes, redesigned and restructures communication system. The results were heartening. Rain water was easily and automatically drained out to underground system, but after him Karachi was more of an orphan city than ever before.
All the efforts that had gone into changing the face of the metropolis, Pakistan’s biggest city, and its commercial hub, was back to zero, even worse than that. The efforts from Murad Ali Shah to be vigilant and on toes, and also of Mayor, failed to yield results, as words remained unmatched with deeds and actions. KMC officers claimed their workforce was on assignments, but there was none to be seen on spot.
The airport, share faisal, eastern district areas of Nazimabad, Gulistan-e- Jauhar and Gulistan-e—Iqbal, plus areas in the southern district received substantial rain of over 2 inches, and felt the pressure, but luckily Defence and Clifton bore the brunt easily because of efficient and watchful management in the two adjacent localities.
Incidents of roof collapse were reported from some areas, causing injuries to inmates, but reports of 5 deaths in the last 24 hours remained unconfirmed. Casualties may have occurred, but their exact number was difficult to acknowledge.