Karachi: To realize the true potential of Karachi as the most import port city of this region, the government, at both provincial and federal levels, has to take courageous decisions to upgrade the civic infrastructure to the city to real urban standards.
Karachi is the second largest city of world by population, a home of 23,500,000 souls, after the largest city of the world Shanghai with 24,150,000 populations. However, if compared to other mega urban cities, Karachi is a big haphazard village, where people commute on makeshift motorcycle rickshaws, Chingchis, where gutters freely overflow on streets and where hardly 20precent of garbage is lifted by municipal authorities. With poor and corrupt governance, worrying lawlessness, this city is also notorious for negligible public health services, resulting in outbreaks of dengue and naegleria fowleri every year.
Sadly, this city lacks political ownership; even the parties who regularly get votes from here have practically done nothing for a sustainable uplift of the city. Even they have failed to solve the basic civic issues like removing encroachments from bazaars, streamlining public transport, maintaining proper water supply and lifting garbage from streets.
The lawmakers of the province mostly belong to feudal or Wadera background and due to their rural background they do not have a vision of urban uplift. Strangely, many of the lawmakers from the urban areas also lack this vision, as generally they belong to slum or low-income areas. They mostly focus on party issues and hardly raise voice in assembly for the issues related to urban development of Karachi.
If compared today’s Karachi is far behind the Karachi of 30 or 40 years back, when this city used to have a modern urban public transport system of buses and trams. Even the today’s Karachi does not have the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) and fleets of Karachi Transport Corporation (KTC) buses. Lack of urban vision and political orphanage have made Karachi not different from the rural towns of Sindh like Larkana, Dadu, Jacobabad or Khairpur, where people commute on Chingchis, where streets are littered and law and order in shamble.
Saving a few posh localities of the city, the rest of Karachi is really a glorified slum area. When the citizens from the rural areas of Sindh visit Karachi there is no wow factor waiting for them here. They see the same Chingchis, encroached bazaars, dirty streets, sprawling slums, corrupt police and inefficient bureaucracy here. Saving the vast areas and huge population, Karachi is not radically different from their villages or towns in civic facilities, lifestyle, mentality, or governance. There is hardly anything inspiring for them in Karachi, because sadly this city instead of raising its lifestyle benchmarks has further lowered them to be content as a very big village.
To change the fate of this city and its residents the government and political parties needs to change their perspective about the future of this mega city. Karachi is fully prepared to become the leading port city, industrial hub and financial center of not only Pakistan but this whole region. The government planners and political think tanks have to upgrade the civic standard of this city and the benchmarks should be not the tree lined city of Islamabad or metro bus city of Lahore, but New York, London, Tokyo and Singapore. However, this really needs taking bold decisions, futuristic planning, innovative implementation and provision of required monetary resources and political will.