Hours-long protest outside Karachi’s CBC ends but residents’ concerns remain unresolved

The suffering of scores of Karachiites saw no end on Monday as parts of the city remained waterlogged and without power, an agonising five days after record-breaking rainfall caused widespread devastation in the metropolis.

Frustrated by the lack of action by departments concerned, residents of DHA and Clifton gathered outside the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) office to protest against the post-rain situation in the two localities.

The demonstration began shortly after noon.

The protesters, carrying placards and chanting slogans, demanded that the drainage system in the areas be improved and roads be repaired and made from scratch. They called upon the CBC chief executive officer to address their concerns.

Protesters also called for an audit of the funds collected in the name of flood relief and called for the board to ensure clean-up work.

Some of the other demands included the resignation of the CBC head and the DHA administrator, for areas to be drained within the next three days, electricity and gas to be restored in all phases within the next 24 hours and spraying to be carried out against mosquitoes.

Footage from the protest also showed citizens attempting to storm the CBC office before being stopped by police officials.

A protest participant told Dawn.com that the CBC CEO showed up “after two hours” and left after two minutes of addressing the protesters amid booing from the participants.

According to Geo News, some of the protesters were later called into the CBC office to discuss the demands put forth by the residents, following which the demonstration ended.

Abdul Rahman, president of the Clifton Defence Community organisation, told Dawn.com that CBC authorities sought three days to clear the area of standing water and carry out spray against diseases. However, they said some of the protesters’ demand would be sent to the station commander for approval, Rahman said.

In response to the demand for audit, CDC officials offered to share the report of their annual audit with the residents, according to Rahman. He said another protest will be held outside the DHA Office on Thursday to press for residents’ demands.

Meanwhile, sharing an update at 5pm, lawyer and activist Jibran Nasir said the Bukhari Commercial area remained an “endless lake” despite 18-hour efforts by him and others to drain the water in the area.

He said DHA’s tankers were present at the site but they did not have suction machines or other equipment.

Nasir further said the CBC still “remained clueless” as to which points of nullahs had to be unclogged, adding that the issue would have been resolved in a day or two instead of four or five days if the CBC had acted in a timely manner.

Facing difficulties with DHA drains, says Sindh govt

Sindh government spokesman Murtaza Wahab said that the provincial government had placed its machines at Khayaban-e-Muhafiz and Khayaban-e-Shujaat to drain out the rainwater from Bukhari Commercial.

“We are facing difficulties with the drains at DHA but are trying our best,” he said. He added that the Sindh government had deployed more machines to help drain the rainwater in DHA.

Wahab later said that there was “too much water in DHA”. The Sindh government is trying to drain water from Khayaban-e-Muhafiz, Khayaban-e-Shujaat and Khayaban-e-Bukhari right now, he said in a tweet.

He said that small pumps and bowsers being used in DHA would take “forever” to clear the areas.

“Such pumps need to be placed since the quantity of water is too huge,” he said, sharing a video of a larger machine. “One machine has already been placed by the provincial government and three more such machines are being made [available] for various areas of Karachi.”

While chairing a meeting of provincial and municipal officials, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah directed all local bodies, including KMC, KDA, Water Board, DMCs and the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board, to dispose of stagnant water from different areas “irrespective of jurisdiction issue” through coordinated efforts, a statement issued by his office said.

Shah directed the Karachi commissioner to prepare an inventory of the dewatering machines, pumps, suction machines and such other machinery available with different local bodies so that they could be moved when needed.

Information minister Shibli Faraz noted that the people of Karachi were currently going through a tough time.

“The federal government and its institutions are providing assistance to the Sindh government to deal with the flood-like situation in the metropolis.”

’95pc of city re-energised’

In a statement, K-Electric (KE) said its field teams and operational staff were working round the clock to restore power to areas still plagued by waterlogging and drainage issues.

“Despite hurdles and impediments to restoration work because of standing rainwater in several parts of DHA and Clifton, KE has been able to re-energise more than 95 per cent of the city.”

The company added that efforts were underway to re-energise five feeders in DHA and Clifton, adding that waterlogging around substations and inside residential premises was proving to be a hurdle, creating a public safety hazard.

“These feeders serve Bukhari Commercial Area, Ittehad Commercial area, Khayaban-e-Shahbaz and parts of 26th street,” the statement said.

“KE’s field teams continue to face challenges because of waterlogging in parts of DHA Phase-VIII (Khayaban-e-Qasim, Roomi), Saba Avenue off Khayaban-e-Muhafiz till Khayaban-e-Ittehad, Bukhari Commercial, Sehar Commercial, Nishat Commercial, Ittehad Commercial, Shahbaz Commercial and Rahat Commercial.”

The power utility reiterated that they had also received “several requests” by residents to refrain from powering up feeders in the “interest of saving human lives”.

“The power utility is totally cognisant of the difficulties being faced by consumers and apologises for the extended outage and would like to highlight that power restoration efforts are entirely dependent on the drainage of water,” the statement said, adding that KE expected to restore power at a feeder level within the next six to 12 hours before proceeding to address localised faults.

‘Rainwater as far as the eye can see’

Meanwhile, lawyer and activist Jibran Nasir, along with a team of volunteers, took to the streets during the early hours of the morning to drain rainwater still accumulated in parts of DHA and Clifton.

“After six hours, our team cleaned all the sewage sludge from KPT Underpass, Clifton before the morning rush hour to make all lanes operational to facilitate commuters on Monday morning,” he said in a tweet on Monday.

“We are now focusing all efforts on Bukhari Commercial which has been reduced to a lake.”

Later, in a video update on Facebook, Nasir said work was underway to drain the water in Bukhari Commercial.

“There is rainwater as far as the eye can see,” he said, showing the situation in the area. Nasir also appealed to organisations and citizens to join clean-up efforts to help those affected.

“Nothing will be achieved by just making noise and complaining. If CBC and DHA wanted to do something, they would have done it on the first day.”

He maintained that if departments concerned worked efficiently, citizens would not be forced to take such “desperate measures”.


 

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