Cleaning Karachi

Will they succeed this time?


The city of Karachi is up for grabs, politically that is. The iron grip of one political party was loosened during the previous elections, much before that, in fact. PTI and PPP are the major beneficiaries of this windfall. The effort is still on to grab more.

There was a finger pointing game on after the latest monsoon rains in the city when the major roads and neighbourhoods were inundated with rain and sewerage waters.

The three major political stakeholders – PPP, PTI and MQM – and responsible for the woes that the city is facing; they instead of doing their job blamed one another for their failure to do the job. After much naming and shaming, the PTI minister from the city, Ali Zaidi, came forward and announced to clean the city within two weeks; many other departments and individuals including showbiz persons as well as sports persons appreciated the move. The drive which started yesterday in its first phase shall clean the nullahs. Political point scoring aside, the cleanliness drive shall surely be welcomed by the residents

Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city with over 20 million people, produces 12,000 tons of waste each day which is dumped directly into the city’s waterways. The ubiquitous shopping bags are one major reason that such drains remain chronically clogged.

The cleanliness drive is all fine and if successful should be good news for the citizens. While such drives are important, and have been conducted in the past as well, they are no permanent solution to the structural problems of governance. Water, sanitation and other municipal works are the responsibility of the city governments. This anomaly in the city of Karachi that the entity responsible does not have the requisite funds, neither does it have the powers to collect taxes to run its affairs. There is a local government tier under the provincial government that is looking after most of such works. Let’s devolve these functions to where these belong.