KARACHI   -  Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has given 48 hours to all local bodies and the district administration to drain out water from each and every street of the city and submit a report to him.  Presiding over a meeting here on Friday, the chief minister said draining out rainwater in the city is the first task, improvement in the drainage system of Karachi second and improvement in roads where Muharram processions take place is the third task.

The meeting was attended by Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Shah, Minister for Katchi Abadis Murtaza Baloch, Adviser to CM Murtaza Wahab, Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar, PSCM Sajid Jamal Abro, Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shahlwani, DHA Administrator Brigadier Ibrar Hussain, KDA Managing Director Dr Badar Jameel Mendhro and Water Board MD Asadullah Khan.

At the meeting, it was pointed out that everyone, including the chief minister, local government minister, city mayor and the district administration were out during heavy rains, but they did not make any coordinated effort to help people. As a result, either work was done in duplication or left unattended on the assumptions that someone else would do it. On this, the chief minister said either issues were resolved or multiplied.

The chief minister directed the local government minister to hold a coordination meeting every fortnight in which all elected representatives, including the mayor, the chairmen of DMCs, chairman of the district councils, SBCA, Sindh Solid Waste Management and representatives of the Cantonment Board may be called to raise the issues of their respective organisations and resolve them in a coordinated way.

The chief minister said that he would personally visit the areas during next 48 hours to see what was happening in different districts and what problems were being faced by people. “This may be considered a top priority to remove rain or sewerage water from the streets and roads to provide relief to people of the city,” he said.

The chairmen of DMCs pointed out that they were facing shortage of funds therefore all DMCs had liabilities of salaries or pensions and of development works. On this, the chief minister said the provincial government was facing financial crunch due to shortfall in federal revenue transfers.

“Despite a serious crisis, I have tried my best to provide funds to the local bodies,” he said and added that local bodies would have to generate their own resources and reduce non-development expenditure through financial management. He said he would be providing more funds to local bodies.

At the meeting, most of the participants pointed out poor performance of the Sindh Solid Waste Management Authority (SSWMA) and said it had no staff and it borrowed officials from other departments. The chief minister said the SSWMA must hire professionals from the market for better performance.

The chief minister directed Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Shah to improve performance of SSWMA otherwise he would return garbage lifting and door to door collection of trash to DMCs. “SSWMA has to improve its performance otherwise I may be harsh in my decisions,” he said.

It was pointed out in the meeting that DMCs have no designated garbage transfer stations. The chief minister directed chairmen of the DMCs and DCs to point out land in every district so that GTS could be established otherwise disposing garbage at open places would cause outbreak of epidemics. The chief minister directed the city mayor and DMCs to start fumigation in the city. On this, Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar said he had provided 48 vehicles to DMCs for fumigation. “I had no funds for purchase of medicine. I arranged funds and provided to local bodies,” he said.

The mayor pointed out that the drainage system in the city had no capacity to cater to needs of the city’s population therefore all gutters were gushing out sewerage water on to the roads. The chief minister said that he would hold another meeting with the mayor, DMC chairmen, Cantonment Boards and KWSB to work out a detailed plan for upgrade and reconstruction of the sewerage system. “I know this city needs a new and modern drainage system. I’m working with the World Bank for this purpose,” he said and added his government would do it on its own.

The city mayor said that KMC hospitals were facing shortage of doctors and technical staff. Senior doctors and technical staff retired in large numbers during the last six years, but no new recruitment was made, he said. He said that he had given an advertisement, but the provincial government cancelled it. On this, the chief minister said that he had not cancelled the advertisement, but withdrawn it in line with the order of the Sindh High Court, which had ordered recruitment to all posts from grade 1 to 14 through the NTS testing service. “We are going in review and things would improve,” he said. The chief minister said that he would hold a separate meeting with the city mayor within a week to resolve all issues of KMC.  Murtaza Wahab, the adviser to the CM, said that areas, which mostly remained inundated after heavy rains were located in Cantonment Boards, but people kept accusing the provincial government of not performing. Through the administrator of the DHA, the chief minister directed all Cantonment Boards to keep their areas clean.

DMCs chairmen pointed out that salaries of the staff had been raised by 40 percent during the last three years but the government had not increased their grants. The chief minister said the minister for local government was working on the salary structure of all local bodies employees so that their salaries could be protected.

The mayor complained that K-Electric had disconnected their power connections though KE was defaulting on KMC land utilisation bills. The chief minister said that he would talk to K-Electric to pay land utilisation bill to KMC. The KMC and other local bodies have the right to take land utilisation fee from K-Electric where it has installed its electric poles and other installations.

The chief minister said “we all have to work together above party and political affiliations.

This is our city and people living here are our people,” he said and added “we have to serve them to the best of our abilities”. The chief minister directed the Local Government Department to improve the roads leading to landfill sites.