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Angry Karachiites begin clean-up after flood fury

Filed on September 1, 2020 | Last updated on September 1, 2020 at 06.29 am
Karachi flood, drainage system
Residents of Defence Housing Authority protest outside the Cantonment Board Clifton office against the failure to fix drainage problems in Karachi.


Residents gathered outside local authority offices to protest against failure to fix drainage problems in the city of 20 million people.

Karachi residents began cleaning ruined homes and businesses on Monday after catastrophic flooding sent rivers of filthy water cascading through Pakistan's largest city, while deadly monsoon weather continued to lash communities across South Asia.

Successive days of storms have exposed the longstanding failures of Karachi's neglected and overwhelmed drainage system, and residents used a welcome break in the rain to vent their fury at what they see as gross mismanagement of municipal resources.

"Everything got ruined in my basement, with about three metres of water inside. The water is a mix of rain and sewage water. It is the fifth day and we are suffering horribly," housewife Lubna Salman, who lives in an upscale Karachi neighbourhood managed by the military, said.

Lubna and other angry residents gathered outside local authority buildings to blast officials for failing to fix drainage problems in the city of 20 million people.

Municipal and military managers were "grossly incompetent" for neglecting the city's sewerage system, Lubna said. Authorities did not immediately comment.

Karachi last week saw a record 230mm of rain, compared to the average of 130mm for the time of year, according to the city's meteorological service.

Videos and images on social media regularly show builders dumping rubble into drainage canals, while shoddy new buildings are erected with scant regard for their effect on maxed-out sewer lines.

With a population of only 500,000 in 1947, Karachi has seen its population mushroom "without investing in invisible infrastructure (pipes and sewerage) for more than 30 years," Karachi-based urban planning professor Nauman Ahmed said.

During a single day last week, 18 Karachi residents died from flood-related incidents. The water was so deep in places that children were seen swimming in the streets. More than 100 Pakistanis died in August because of the monsoon, which has also destroyed more than 1,000 homes in the country.

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