BE2C2 Report; Jan 11, 2017 — Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar revealed today that around 35 million tons of municipal solid (residential) waste has accumulated in Pakistan’s financial capital in the past eight years and not even half of that was disposed of properly.
According to many observers and Karachiites, among the many tragedies that have afflicted the country’s largest city over the decades — such as crime, terrorism and urban blight — the city’s solid waste problem has assumed crisis proportions.
In neighborhoods across the city — from the enclaves of the elite to the sprawling urban slums — there are mounds of garbage piling up everywhere, with the provincial government and municipal authorities at sea about how to solve the problem, wrote Dawn in one of its editorials on the issue.
“Though this situation has persisted for decades, it has become worse over the past few years.”
The MQM-led Mayor also said that he did not expect to see agreement between the city’s Solid Waste Management board with Chinese company for clearing dumps in two districts – both are MQM-majority areas.
“Damaged roads, piles of garbage and ignorance of municipal corporation hospitals have been caused by Sindh government,” he added.
Meanwhile, the first batch of machines imported from China to lift garbage in the metropolis has arrived at the port and the second shipment is expected to arrive next week, officials in the Sindh government told Dawn on Friday.
The first batch includes 200 tricycle refuse vehicles, 1,300 handcarts, 5,000 dustbins of 240-liter capacity, several 280-liter steel dustbins, 3,200 dustbins of 260-liter capacity, showers to clean trees, mechanical sweepers and street-washing vehicles.
The second shipment of machines will arrive on Jan 10 and will include loaders and other heavy equipment, it has emerged.
Sindh Minister for Local Bodies Jam Khan Shoro has said that the Chinese company will start work on solid waste management in south and east districts of Karachi at the end of this month.
The Chinese operation will have the oversight of the 80+ member solid waste Sindh Solid Waste Management Board.
After the Chinese firm begins its operations, the city’s sanitation workers will be placed at the disposal of the board.
The Chinese company, Changyi Kangjie Sanitation Engineering Company Limited, had won the Rs2bn ($20m) annual contract to process waste in the city of 20 million.
Based on approximately 4m tons of garbage the city annually produces – the garbage collection by the Chinese would cost roughly $5 (Rs500 per ton). And, on an estimated 20m population, Karachi administration would be paying $1/day/ton (Rs100/day/ton) to the Chinese company.
The District South Municipal Corporation, with a majority of elected representatives from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), was the first of Karachi’s six urban municipalities that agreed to the scheme and passed a resolution in this regard, a mandatory prerequisite for the plan.
DMC East, with a majority of representatives from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, followed suit and joined the project planned by the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board.
The remaining four DMCs will be included in the scheme after they complete the prerequisites.
Officials explained that Karachi South produced the highest volume of waste — 1,300 tons a day — among the six districts of Karachi followed by Karachi East which produced around 1,000 tons of garbage daily.
Experts say the problem is that the state does not treat waste management in a holistic manner.
For example, while statements about lifting garbage will be made, it is unclear how it will be ultimately disposed of. Waste disposal and treatment is a linked exercise, from garbage generation to disposal, and must be addressed in a systematic way.
Meanwhile, the company is said to be in consultation with the government to transfer the garbage to a landfill site where it would establish a power plant to produce energy from the city’s garbage.
Garbage collection will not only result in a cleaner city, it can also result in revenue through energy generation, creating compost from organic waste, recycling material etc., experts said.
A proper plan overseen by elected local governments — accompanied by a campaign sensitizing citizens about proper waste-disposal methods — should be the government’s top priority; if need be, the model of other cities, such as Lahore, can be studied, the experts said.
Talking to BE2C2/PKonweb, Shamshad Siddiqqui, Middle East coordinator of Pak Sar Zameen Party (whose head is Mustafa Kamal, former mayor of Karachi) said, “Karachi garbage requires action not policymaking.”
“You can’t do anything until you have the power. Existing government does not like to do any development projects in the city. Very few projects are in the works but progress is very slow,” Mr. Siddiqui said.
“We are relying on foreign companies, why can’t we solve our own problems,” said Engr. Rehan Ahmed – a Pakistani expat who heads solid waste disposal unit at Bahrain Ministry of Environment. Mr. Rehan a former consultant to Karachi Metropolitan Corporation on waste management told BE2C2/PKonweb he is ready to share his Bahrain experience, and knowledge-base with Karachi local government.
“Previous setup led by PPP-leader and Chief minister Qaim Ali Shah did not carry sense of responsibility on this matter. That is why over the years the garbage pickup has turned into a crisis and no one was ready to resolve it,” said Fayyaz Ali Khan, President of PPP Riyadh Chapter.