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Karachi Hit By ‘Worst Fly Infestation’ As Experts Warn of ‘Sanitation Emergency’

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KARACHI: As political parties engage each other in a blame game in connection with the cleanliness situation in the metropolis, urban and medical experts are issuing stark warnings of an impending “sanitation emergency” in the port city as it experiences one the “worst infestation of flies” to date.

According to a report published in The New York Times (NYT), flies have taken over the port city and have become “a bullying force on sidewalks, flying in and out of stores and cars and homes, and settling onto every available surface, from vegetables to people”.

Recently, the southern part of Karachi was hit by a torrential rainstorm which resulted in days-long power outages and flooding in many areas of the city, while also choking the city’s drainage system.

Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) Executive Director Dr Seemin Jamali, while talking to a correspondent of NYT, said that the latest situation marked the “worst infestation of flies she had ever witnessed”.

“They are huge swarms of flies and mosquitoes. They are affecting the lives of all citizens, so much so that you cannot walk straight on the road as there are so many flies everywhere,” she added.

Talking about the remains and tripe of sacrificial animals left behind on the roads of the metropolis after Eid-ul-Azha, Dr Jamali said, “We have removed the garbage from the streets.”

She also warned that diseases could rapidly spread in the city due to poor waste management facilities and stagnant rain water that has accumulated in different areas of the port city. Malaria, gastroenteritis, typhoid, dengue fever, the chikungunya virus, respiratory disorders, and Congo fever are some of the diseases that can spread in the city in the present circumstances, she said.

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Weak Government Response

The economic hub of Pakistan is facing different challenges which include garbage collection and disposal problem and the emergence of fumigation-resistant bugs.

Instead of making concerted efforts to address the issue at hand, local politicians belonging to different political parties have been involved in a blame game and none among them is willing to take responsibility for the mess that the city has turned into.

While the port city has been facing a garbage disposal problem from the past many years, the situation was made worse by the rains that hit the metropolis in early August. The entails of sacrificial animals thrown on the streets after Eid-ul-Azha only added to the existing problems.

According to NED University of Engineering and Technology Professor Dr Noman Ahmed, “If the city experiences more downpours in the coming days, everything would become dysfunctional.”

“The quality of life is falling in the city and the situation calls for a sanitation emergency,” he added.

Further, the port city has become a problematic place for commuting and small businesses due to the lack of resources, weak infrastructure, a rapidly growing population, climate change and the fact that the city produces 12,000 tonnes of waste each day which it cannot efficiently dispose, as noted by a World Bank report.

Street vendors have suffered the most due to the fly problem as people avoid visiting an open stall to avoid contracting diseases.

Who Will Clean Karachi?

The problems being currently faced by the people of the metropolis have multiplied due to the stand-off between politicians. According to the NYT report, the feuding politicians have blamed each other for failing to resolve the issue of garbage disposal and choked sewage drains in the city. Unfortunately, the condition has deteriorated further and has made the lives of citizens miserable.

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Local politicians have been cashing in on the new trend of ‘cleanliness drives’ which have yet to materialise. As has been witnessed from the events of recent days, the issue of cleanliness is being used as a political weapon by the political parties.

For instance, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) which runs the federal government has been making aggressive efforts to consolidate its base in the port city and has been targeting the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) which enjoys traditional power in the Sindh province.

On the other hand, Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) chief Mustafa Kamal has blamed the lack of cleanliness in Karachi on rampant corruption within the ranks of the provincial government.

Earlier on August 2, PTI’s federal minister Ali Zaidi had vowed to clean Karachi in two weeks but failed to do so.

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