EDITORIAL: It's been deeply disturbing, all the more so since the media had been sounding warnings on the basis of past experience. Six people lost their lives to electrocution in Karachi in just three days of rainfall. It was a tragedy waiting to happen because of sheer dilapidated infrastructure of the electric utility and the callousness of the local as well as provincial governments to the plight of ordinary people. Last year, 19 people died due to electric shocks from fallen live wires. In one heartrending incident three young men were killed when their motorbike went out of control because of rainwater and hit an electric pole. Yet no one seemed to be pushed until the public raised a hue and cry. That was when the National Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) launched an investigation into K-Electric's affairs and held it responsible for the electrocutions. The latest horrors show it was just like water off a duck's back. NEPRA did not bother, either, to follow-up on its findings and ensure the country's only composite power company responsible for generation, transmission, and distribution improved its dilapidated infrastructure.
Some of the harm to its system may be caused by unauthorized consumers, such as those using 'kundas' to hook up with the power supply or thieving by certain other service providers. But there is a remedy for such bad behaviour. Installation of Aerial Bundled Cables, for instance, can help thwart 'kunda' users and also ensure safety and efficiency of the structure. The administration can and should also ask the police to keep an eye on power thieves. The related issue of rainwater needs to be resolved, too. After the recent rains, TV images of the city showed several neighbourhoods and roads under nearly shoulder-high water. But Chairman of the province's ruling party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, seemed to suggest it is not something to complain about when a while ago he made the much ridiculed comment that when the rain comes, water comes. Rains bring water, but then they come in major cities of advanced countries as well. They have built and properly maintained drainage systems to take care of downpours. But in this nation's largest and most prosperous city, even the old drainage channels (inadequate for its present-day expansion) are filled with garbage heaps, leaving no room for water except to inundate roads and low-lying localities, mostly populated by ordinary people.
This city needs a massive intervention. As things stand, the local government, which on principle should be looking after the civic affairs, lacks both the financial resources and the authority to do its duty toward the people. Most of its powers have been usurped by the provincial government. Both tend to shrug their shoulders when faced with public protests. This must come to a stop. Preventable loss of life is too serious a matter to be left unheeded .They must step up and do all that is necessary to set things right.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2020