Every year in monsoon season, Karachities brace for water clogged streets and power cuts. First we desperately yearn for rains, and when it falls, we pray for it to go, as the sewers overflow, roads cave in and electricity cut off for days.
Before writing about recent rainfall in Karachi, I would like to go back to rains of previous years. In 2006, large part of Karachi went underwater after the monsoon rains, the reasons being construction work going around and inefficient waste management that caused sewerage to clog drains, resulting in water spilling across roads, damaging properties and what not. After the devastation and carnage that followed, City Government of Karachi formed Citizen Community Boards with the aim of having a liaison between CDGK and citizens of Karachi on issues related to infrastructure, disaster management etc. After three years, we still don’t know if these boards exist or not and what goals they have achieved so far.
Came the monsoons in 2007, Karachi again faced disruption of power supply and chaos on the roads especially due to fallen billboards, most of them installed illegally (right under the nose of government, as usual).
In 2008 monsoon, 80% of Karachi was without electricity for more than 14 hours (although it was not a “record” rainfall). Power cuts and rain water cause massive traffic jams across the city and Karachi was grid-locked for hours.
Rain in Karachi (Flickr)
Now, the monsoons of 2009 have just started and Karachi has already gone through one of the worst calamities. Although, the rains have claimed to break a record of 32 years of highest rainfall in a day, the inefficiency of service providers and lack of disaster management capabilities in city government shall not be excused.
City Nazim Mustafa Kamal is found boasting “all clear” after the rainfall, however, in reality Karachities suffered heavy financial and human losses when their homes, businesses and vehicles were drowned in rain-cum-sewerage water, spilled across the city due to choked sewers and slow drainage operations. Kamal blamed encroachment as an obstacle for the CDGK to clear storm water drains, but he can not (and will not) explain how on earth his government is still unable to eradicate encroachments while enjoying the government at all levels since last 8 years. He can also not answer why Nazimabad and Liaquatabad underpasses were turned into swimming pools and why the entry and exit points of flyovers were not kept clean from water clogging, an act of criminal negligence that eventually transformed the spots into graveyards of cars, rickshaws, buses and motorcycles.
Homeless after Rain (Flickr)
Homes destroyed after Karachi Rain (Flickr)
Water clogging was not only limited to CDGK administered areas. Posh localities of DHA and Clifton also went under water. The KPT underpass got filled with water, so were the streets and houses of various phases of DHA.
While members of traffic police, officials of city government and their city wardens were present on the streets, along with scores of volunteer citizens, guiding vehicles and assisting those that got stuck in water, traffic was chaotic as most of the traffic signals were dead. Due to lack of ground information, motorists got stuck at all the wrong spots, worsening the traffic situation.
KESC yet again proved itself a beast beyond control of local, provincial and federal governments of Pakistan. Rain soaked Karachities faced another crisis when KESC power feeders failed one by one and most parts of Karachi remained powerless for more than three days. Governmental officials, bureaucrats, politicians and their pimps certainly can not empathize with people who spent anywhere between 20 hours to 90 hours without electricity and water.
As there are forecasts of more rains in days to come, the CDGK, KESC and other “public service” institutions should have their disaster management and crisis control acts ready or get perpared to face the wrath of masses.