KARACHI                       -            Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar, while strongly criticising the rules and regulations as defined in Sindh Local Government Act SLGA-2013 by the Sindh government, has said he requests the Supreme Court (SCP) for the implementation of Article 140A of the Constitution.

Speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) on Tuesday, the mayor said that due to his untiring efforts for the last four years, now the realization had finally come in the Supreme Court and also the Sindh government about the significance of Article 140A. “The honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), before commencing specific case proceedings recently, had asked the Sindh AG to read Article 140A of the Constitution, which categorically states that ‘administrative powers, political powers and financial powers should be devolved to the third tier of the government. Similarly, recently a statement appeared in the media, which quoted a Sindh government official as saying that Sindh government was looking forward to empowering the mayor and KMC,” Waseem said.

Chairman Businessmen Group & former president KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli, General Secretary BMG AQ Khalil, President KCCI Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan, Senior Vice President Arshad Islam, Vice President Shahid Ismail, Chairman Special Committee for Small Traders Majeed Memon and others were present at the meeting.

Karachi mayor further said that the controversial SLGA 2013 had reduced the number of departments under the KMC’s control, while many other powers and compulsory functions, which even though had been conferred on Mayor’s Office under SLGA 2013, are actually still under Sindh government’s domination which was the key reason for the massive number of problems being suffered by people of Karachi. “All revenue generating departments are being administered by the Sindh government while KMC manages only those departments including hospitals, parks, fire brigade etc. which are not earning anything, but require a lot of funds,” he regretted.

He said that despite limited resources, KMC was striving hard to somehow improve the performance of those departments which fell under its domain. “Although the condition of hospitals and parks under the KMC’s control is not ideal, and the people face lots of difficulties, but we are trying to improve the situation despite severe paucity of funds,” he added.

Referring to Siraj Teli’s remarks, in which he had suggested to him resign as Karachi mayor, if powerless, Waseem stated that he was not in the favour of resigning from the post as it would prove counterproductive and would never help in exposing all the wrongdoings being done to Karachi by the federal and Sindh governments.

He said that billions of rupees were being collected through various taxes by the Sindh government while a meager amount, collected from owners of parked vehicles and parks’ entry tickets, was available to KMC and it was impossible to run the administrative affairs of the entire city from these nominal funds.

He was of the opinion that KMC could not be blamed alone for the disasters afflicting the port city, but others as well as the business & industrial community was also responsible as they are also busy in getting their business-related issues resolved only and are not vocally raising voice to get Karachi’s issues resolved.

Speaking on the occasion, Chairman BMG Siraj Kassam Teli said that to date, Karachi has never been owned by anyone, neither by MQM nor by PPP, PML (N) and ANP. Everyone has grossly looted and minted money from Karachi and did nothing for this city. “There was a time when MQM was in power with maximum authority and if they had desired, they would have certainly developed Karachi. MQM, PPP and ANP are all equally responsible for ruining the city and where we stand today is only because of the politics of all these political parties. They all were not concerned about Karachi that has created a disastrous situation being suffered by the city today.”

Siraj Teli said, “Not just these political parties but we all are also responsible for the problems being faced by Karachi as many of us, instead of criticizing, are usually busy in giving hails to the presence to politicians, bureaucrats and even the high ranking police officers. We have to look at ourselves and must start speaking the truth only which is not any easy thing to do but is the only way to get the issues resolved.”

“We, at KCCI regardless of the consequences, have always spoken the truth which is the reason why many lawmakers are reluctant to visit Karachi Chamber as we ask too many questions and seek explanations”, he added.

Chairman BMG said, “If our Mayor has just 10 percent authority over the city’s overall administration and he is held responsible for all the disaster then our Mayor should immediately step down and go back home. If I would have been at Mayor’s place, I would have certainly demanded all the required powers otherwise, I would have immediately resigned from the post.”

He said that Karachi contributes a huge amount of more than 70 percent revenue to the national exchequer and more than 95 percent revenue to Sindh Revenue Board. The entire country and the Sindh province is being run on the earnings of this city but unfortunately, Karachi receives nothing in return and remains deprived.

President KCCI Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan expressed deep concerned over dilapidated infrastructure of Karachi where the road and sewerage networks were in an awful state while the city also faces encroachment, traffic jam, transport, water and gas shortages issues, which have intensified the hardships not just for business & industrial community but also for the entire public. “To deal with transport and traffic jam issues, it has become inevitable that the Karachi Circular Railway must become operational at the earliest”, he added.

He urged the decision makers in Islamabad and Sindh province to put their differences aside and work collectively to improve the standard of living and doing business in Karachi which was in the larger interest of the entire country. NNI