In recent years, Karachi has become synonymous with piles of garbage, overflowing sewers, lack of public transportation and water shortages. These problems are caused by humans rather than for natural reasons. Piles of garbage can be seen on roadsides, around hospitals, schools, campuses and cemeteries. There is a cemetery where those carrying the bodies have to wade through dirty water knee-deep. The provincial government, with the cooperation of the federal government, has rebuilt some of the damaged roads after remaining neglected for several years. Only time will tell about the quality of road repair work.
What sets Karachi apart from other cities in the country and the world are its tall and vast garbage towers. The provincial government has announced over and over again that the landfill will be cleaned up soon, but this promise has not been fulfilled. In places where large piles of rubbish had formed, people found, especially around government buildings and hospitals, walls bearing warnings that those caught littering around government buildings and hospitals would be arrested, tried and imprisoned: by order (important government official). The names of these officials are mostly in bold type. The orders and warnings written on the walls are meant for effect – so those who break the rules can stop littering. Unfortunately, sharp observers and even less-sharp observers of a bad sight now take on the opposite meaning of the writing on the walls – picking up trash is a punishable offense, so those found cleaning offensive trash will be arrested, tried and jailed.
Garbage, stray dogs and collapsing civilian infrastructure in Karachi are the main topics of discussion in homes, restaurants, clubs and other similar places. Garbage has become a problem with the capital city P. Those whose job it is to pick up trash, no doubt, don’t want to work, so residents are used to living with garbage that is unpleasant, offensive and disgusting.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2020.
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