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Vohra seeks Karachi’s due financial share

Vohra seeks Karachi’s due financial share

KARACHI: “The absence of a local body government for the last eight years has added to Karachi’s problems. It is ironic that 90 per cent of citizens here don’t pay municipality tax,” said deputy mayor of Karachi Arshad Vohra here on Wednesday.

He was speaking on day two of the three-day International Conference on Managing Megacities-2016 organised by the department of public administration, University of Karachi, and Schar School of Public Policy and Government, George Mason University, United States, in the HEJ auditorium on the university campus.

“The main issues of Karachi are overpopulation, traffic management, garbage collection and transportation,” he said, adding that they had been assured by the governor of Sindh and the Sindh government of financial support to manage these things.

“Transportation projects such as the Greenline Rapid Transport System are commendable but such projects must have been initiated years before,” he said.

“On a daily basis, Karachi produces 12,000 tonnes of garbage and the KMC is capable of lifting only 4,000 tonnes per day. Due to this gap billions of tonnes of garbage is just lying around in the city. We all must own Karachi and we all must positively contribute to resolving the issues of our city to make Karachi one of the world’s greatest cities,” he said while adding that the local government, soon after taking charge of its duties, was working positively to improve the performance of every local body institution.

“Karachi is Pakistan’s biggest city. It has a literacy rate of more than 70 per cent but it is a victim of financial injustices. Karachi is not being given its due financial share since it contributes 98pc of the tax revenue collected by the Sindh government. We are in dialogue with the Sindh government to get the deserved financial share of Karachi in this regard,” the deputy mayor said.

KU geography department chairman Prof Dr Jamil Hasan Kazmi in his keynote address on ecology lamented that environment and marine life preservation had never been a priority of our decision makers due to lack of political commitment. “There is surplus water in Karachi but a water crisis emerges due to the mismanagement of the local authorities. Open-head water tanks are the greatest breeding places for dengue mosquitoes,” he said.

Syeda Hoor-ul-Ain from the KU’s department of public administration, while presenting her paper, said that Karachi as a megacity faced huge transport challenges ranging from rampant urbanisation and limited budgets to inefficient infrastructures. “The issues of over-crowding, traffic congestion and poor quality of service and ill-fitness of the vehicles are the emerging challenges in the transportation sector,” she said while revealing that 79pc of the respondents said that the poor quality of public buses added to stress, which in turn affected their productivity and effectiveness at work.

She also shared data that 68pc of the respondents indicated that public buses were unreliable, insecure and overcrowded. In particular, 55pc of the women respondents who commute by public buses said that they felt insecure and faced sexual harassment in Karachi, with East district rated as the most unsafe area for women commuters.

“Gender equality is growing at a faster pace at work and education in Karachi. There is an increasing number of women who leave for work and education from their homes. Provision of limited space in public transport for women commuters has become a major impediment in their mobility. Other women mobility issues include longer hours of waiting for the bus,” she said.

Faculty members of KU’s department of public administration Mustafa Hyder and Tehmina Faisal while presenting their papers said provision of clean water and sanitation facilities was a crucial aspect of governmental administrative institutions around the globe. This governmental responsibility becomes exceptionally critical in megacities such as Karachi where resource management and distribution are not just sustainable and consistent patterns of operational implementation. Rather they required systematically-engineered plans and projects based on contemporary standards of construction, delivery and maintenance mechanisms. Poor quality of public water supply can lead to social instability and a high level of stress.

Zohair Ashir from Hisaar Foundation said that today Karachi is the seventh largest city in the world with a population of over 22 million people. “As the years have passed, the realities of water availability, water regime, population growth and climate conditions have changed considerably here. However, there has been no change in the ways that people use and manage water. The current water demand of Karachi is 1.1 billion gallons per day but the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, the main municipal water utility in the city, can only supply 550MGD. As a result of increased migration into the city and significant population growth, this gap will only become wider,” he said.

Published in Dawn September 22nd, 2016

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