Karachi: Administrative failure and lack of political ownership have mad Karachi a orphaned city, its infrastructure in shambles, urban facilities nonexistence, corruption at zenith and lawlessness on peak.
The city has became a big heap of garbage, its beaches contaminated with untreated gutter water, roads broken, public transport system weak, hospitals and healthcare facilities crumbling, educational system falling, corruption, crime and bhatta collection on rise.
Garbage lifting and opening chocked gutters is a serious and chronic problem of the mega city. Resultantly, vector diseases including typhoid, malaria, naegleria fowleri and dengue are widespread in the city. In fact Karachi has most dengue cases than in any other city of Pakistan and the region, but the corrupt and inept healthcare bureaucracy has even no courage to share the data of dengue cases with public. The city has even faced Crimean–Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) deaths and now the expert fear spread of Ebola virus in the city. This disease burden could be lessened if the municipal organizations of the city including Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) and Cantonment Boards just discharge their basic responsibilities of garbage lifting, provision of clean and chlorinated water and upkeep of basic civic services to citizens.
Corruption and mismanagement are the hallmark of Karachi bureaucracy. Karachi Circular Railway (KCR), Co-gen plant of DHA, Saddar car parking plaza, CNG buses pilot project of city government, 47-storey IT Tower project near Civic Center and mechanized sweepers of KMC are but a few examples of corruption and mismanagement where billions of the rupees of taxpayers’ money went to the pockets of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats. Though the KCR and Co-gen projects may be exempted as they are out of the orbit of the city government, but the failure of Saddar car parking plaza, CNG buses pilot project, 47-storey IT Tower project, mechanized sweeping machines failed simply due to administrative failure and lack of the political ownership of Karachi.
Public transport sector in Karachi is a shameful condition. While Lahore after successfully introducing Metro Buses is going to underground metro rail service, Karachi has become a ‘Chigchi city’. Discarded and road unfit minibuses from whole Pakistan especially Peshawar are brought and run on the road of Karachi. These overcrowded minibuses use cheap CNG and charge fare on the basis of costly diesel, which is another example of exploitation of Karachiites, simply due to the lack of the political ownership of their city. No private public transporter dares to fleece the commuters of Lahore, Islamabad and even Peshawar, but in Karachi anybody could exploit commuters and other consumers if he is ready to pay sufficient bribe. The city administration and its political leadership easily turn the blind eye to the exploitation of Karachiietes on such occasions. Karachi is the only mega urban city of the world where there is no color code of public transport vehicles, where no ticket is issued to commuters and where taxis and rickshaws run with meter. However, the political leadership of the city has no time to waste on such petty issues. For last two decades the ‘coaches’ of the city charge extra fare on the condition that they run seat-by-seat, but these coaches allow commuters not only to travel standing on footboards but also to sit on their rooftops. It is Karachi!
Healthcare system is taking its last breaths in Karachi. Government hospitals are overcrowded, unhygienic and lack proper staff and facilities. The wards of Civil Hospital Karachi, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center and Abbasi Shaheed Hospital are overcrowded. Even in the gynecology wards two to three patients are allotted one bed. There is acute shortage of doctors. The paramedical and sweeping staff do not perform their duties and no one dare to irk them as their powerful associations and unions go for boycotts if the nursing, paramedical and sweeping staff is asked to perform their duties. Most of them just get their salaries without discharging their duties due to administrative failure.
In schools and government offices ghost employee culture is rampant. Mostly the staffers are recruited on the basis of their political affiliation and nobody asks them to perform their duties as they are political activists and not government servants. They are answerable to their political leaders and not to the administrative officers of their departments. Though their patrons think they are serving their workers, but in fact they are destroying the administrative fabric of their own city, not knowing that the ultimate sufferers of the failed administration of Karachi would be their own voters. This is the most serious example of the lack of the political ownership of Karachi.
The main roads and streets of the city are occupied by encroachers who pay ‘bhatta and monthlies’ to officials and political leaders of their areas. In fact Karachi is the only city of the world where second hand cars on sold on roads and footpaths, causing immense traffic problems. When the New M A Jinnah Road was constructed it’s both service roads were made very wide footpaths, not to facilitate pedestrians but to facilitate the car dealers who park their vehicles for sale on these footpaths.
Karachi needs a holistic approach to become an urban mega city in a real sense. Presently, it is a vast disorganized society based on rural, tribal, ethnic and crime cultures. To change Karachi, the political leadership must have to take the ownership of this city strictly and seriously. When the political leadership gives is clear message that Karachi is no more an ‘orphaned city’ the administration and bureaucracy would also know that now it is time for work and serve the city and its population and in laxity in this regard would lead to serious consequences.
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