Huge challenges ahead for future city government

Karachi: After the competition of third phase of local government election the voters have sealed the fate of Karachi and now they expect from the future city government to deliver. However, considering the plethora of problems in Karachi it would be a huge challenge for the future city rulers of Karachi.

The biggest challenge for the city government would be to streamline public transport sector of Karachi. Without modernizing public transport sector the city could not go for a progress and prosperity. Presently, the public transport sector of Karachi is based on old minibuses discarded by Peshawar after expiry of their useful engine life. It is a sorry picture to see Karachiites travelling on the rooftops of these junk minibuses risking their life. This sort of situation could not even be imagined in modern urban cities.

The first task before the coming city government would be to ban all public transport buses that had already expired their useful engine life. The minibuses and coaches must be replaced with wide bodied bus and in no case the present minibuses and coaches be allowed to ply on the city streets. The owners of these minibuses and coaches could be offered new route permits for wide bodied buses and other incentives under law. However, the days of old minibuses and coaches in Karachi has already been numbered.

The city government is an important stakeholder in the revival of Karachi Circular Railway (KCR). This lingering project must be repaired and run on urgent basis, preferably by the traders of Karachi. The Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) has already offered its services to own and run the public interest projects in Karachi and also to improve the infrastructure of the city. Traders have the ability to run city uplift projects successfully and modern cities of Faisalabad and Sialkot are the result of the efforts of commerce people. The traders, businessmen and industrialists of Karachi should be provided a chance to serve their city and its residents.

Housing sector needs a serious focus of the future city government. One of the main causes of crime in Karachi is the activities of land mafia. The city needs dozens of new housing projects. In past the defunct DKA used to give the Karachiites gift of new housing schemes and this tradition needs to be continued by the coming city government.

Law and order, especially, solid steps against mugging are necessary for Karachi. This needs continuation of the Karachi operation in letter and spirit on one hand and revamp Karachi police on the lines of London Metropolitan Police on the other hand. Karachi needs to adopt the concept of total policing and it would be possible when the city get a modern police trained on modern concepts of countering urban crime.

Education and healthcare could not be ignored. It is urgently needed to at least double the admissions in the institutes like Karachi University, NED University of Engineering and Technology and Dow University of Health Sciences. These institutes have full capacity to double their seats on urgent basis. The city also needs at least two dozen technical colleges and a couple of modern technical universities to train millions of unskilled youth of the city.

Three major city hospitals, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) and Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH) have the potential to double their bed capacity. For this the provincial government would have to take the decision, but the city government could also revamp and upgrade its own hospitals. In fact Karachi needs at least one modern hospital equipped with trauma and emergency services in each of its towns.

The poor road and drainage infrastructure is a shame for a urban city like Karachi, which should be come under the radar of the coming city government. Failed projects like Cogen need to be revived seriously. The ongoing mega projects of water supply and drainage disposal should be completed on time.

Tourism is the badly ignored sector of Karachi. Beautiful beaches of the city are in very poor shape. The city has a lot of colours and sounds to attract local and foreign tourists. Historical Chowkundi graveyard is being grabbed by land mafia. It is a major heritage site and a tourist attraction which should be saved, preserved and developed on modern lines including establishing a Karachi history museum there.

The city could generate billions of rupees if its neglected tourist sector is given a serious attention. Even, if the coming city government followed the footsteps of Lahore and introduced a dozen of double-decker tourist buses for city sightseeing it could also greatly boost local tourism.

However, the coming mayor of the city would be a powerful mayor as the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) has got a strong mandate from Karachiites and they expect from him or her to revive the old glory of Karachi.