Karachi’s federal colonies have become a hotbed of problems due to the growing inattention of the Pakistan Public Works Department (PakPWD), a federal government agency.
Mountains of garbage can be seen piled up in these residential areas, while sewage water often accumulates in the many potholes that mark these damaged streets and continues to reek the neighbourhood for days on end, in absence of funds and staff to address these issues.
PakPWD officers and members are currently overseeing the ongoing development schemes of the National Assembly.
The quarters in the colony however, have been left in a state of disrepair due to lack of repairs while their residents have been repairing these government houses on their own.
Residents of these federal colonies are of the opinion that they have turned invisible to the government and public representatives, who have shied away from paying any attention to solving the problems of these areas.
According to details, there are several federal colonies in Karachi under the Federal Ministry of Housing and Works.
These include Pakistan Quarters, Martin Quarters, Jahangir Quarters, Clinton Road Quarters, Jamshed Quarters, Federal Capital Area and others. Where allotment of accommodation to federal employees in these colonies is the responsibility of the State Office while water, the charge of sewerage, repair and rehabilitation of these neighbourhoods rests with Pakistan Public Works Department (PakPWD).
Speaking in the regard, Kaleem-ul-Haq Usmani, a resident of Martin Quarters and a social leader, said that the federal colonies have no personnel appointed for their upkeep.
“Many years have passed. The PakPWD does not pay any attention to these areas, due to which these colonies remain in ruins. Roads in Pakistan Quarter, Martin Quarter and surrounding colonies in particular are in a state of disrepair, sewerage lines have become inoperable and there is a constant shortage of water,” he lamented.
He alleged that the PWD offices located in these areas have remained practically inactive.
“If a complaint is taken to PWD, it’s unlikely for it to ever be resolved. Their only answer is that we do not have the funds,” the resident shared.
Per Usmani, all development work in these areas was being done by the Sindh government or local bodies but now they too have stopped paying attention, leaving residents no choice but to fix their own quarters.
Similarly, FC Area Residence Welfare Association General Secretary Muhammad Nadeem Akhtar, said that there are 5,200 flats in FC Area, which are divided into different categories. “FC area is in the worst condition. Sewerage lines have been completely destroyed here, due to which gutter water is seen accumulated everywhere.
Most of the employees of PakPWD have retired due to which there is no staff in the area for cleaning streets or clearing the sewerage lines.
While flats in FC area have not been repaired for a long time, due to which many buildings are in dilapidated condition,” he revealed.
Speaking further, Akhther also claimed that any effort to report issues to the PWD staff almost always renders them the same inexcusable response: “We do not have funds. These colonies are inhabited by retired officers and their families, for whom there is nothing that we can do.”
Ironically however, be they retired employees or current service employees, allowances for maintenance are still regularly deducted from their salaries and pensions.
“Even the members of the assembly in the constituencies where the federal communities are present are not doing anything for the residential communities here.”
Highlighting the area’s water scarcity issues, FC Area Residence Welfare Association member Muhammad Humayun Wahab said there was also a severe shortage of fresh water in these residential areas.
People meet their needs with boring water or by buying water.
“The accumulation of sewage water has led to an increase in mosquito infestation in the area, which has increased the risk of dengue outbreak,” he revealed. A similar situation was also observed in other federal colonies, like Jehangir Quarters, where lack of hygiene and sanitation have become health hazard for the residents. “We urge Prime Minister Imran Khan and Federal Minister for Housing and Works Tariq Bashir Cheema to take immediate steps for water, sewerage, repair and maintenance of roads and sanitation in these areas,” demanded Muhammad Aslam, a resident of Jahangir Quarters.
On the other hand, various Pak PWD officials claimed that there were many vacancies in PakPWD at the moment, but lack of recruitment has resulted in lack of sanitation staff.
“The federal government also does not release funds.
How will these problems be solved when there are no funds? Pak PWD does not even have machinery. That is why the problems in these areas are so great. Most of the cleaning and sewerage work is done by the municipal staff,” an officer told The Express Tribune on conditions of anonymity.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2021.