What has Sindh government done for Karachi?

by Tauqeer Abbas

Shafaqna Pakistan: Karachi is an Achilles heel for any ruling party. Due to its complex, multi-tier government structure, it has remained in the headlines. Even after the 18th amendment, both federal and provincial governments still have their respective responsibilities to the metropolitan. In addition, there are six district municipal corporations (South, West, East, Central, Korangi, and Malir) that come under the umbrella of a city-government-run KMC (Karachi Metropolitan Corporation), and six military cantonment areas (Clifton, Malir Cantt, Faisal Cantt, KCB, Korangi Creek, and Manora Cantt).

Furthermore, Karachi has independent housing societies run by private bodies such as Bahria Town, New Nazimabad, etc. Thus, the city has been a source of tug of war between political entities.

Having too many cooks in the picture, Karachi has faced a plethora of governance issues. From health to infrastructure, there has been a dearth of facilities for Karachiites. Recognizing the lack of even basic facilities for its people and with KMC out of the picture after completing their tenure, the current provincial government has taken it upon itself to improve the condition of the megacity, including the regions that do not technically come under their jurisdiction.

Let’s try to answer the commonly asked question, “Karachi kay liye aakhir kya hai?” (What have they done for Karachi?)Karachiites have been facing inadequate healthcare facilities for years. From primary childcare to the treatment of chronic ailments, no proper hospital was available, especially when the leading cause of deaths in Pakistan are death diseases followed by Cancer, Kidney ailments, and Stroke. The Sindh government should be commended for addressing the issue keeping in mind the need of the population.

They established the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD), the world’s largest cardiac surgeries facility. It is a flagship cardio treatment facility in Pakistan with 16 Chest Pain Units and two hospitals in Karachi for fast diagnosis and early treatment of heart attack.

To address the second leading cause of death; Cancer, the Sindh government established two state-of-the-art Cyberknife robotic surgery centers in Karachi in partnership with the Patient Aid Foundation. The treatment costs around $50,000 – $90,000 per patient internationally, but the Government of Sindh’s support is available to those in need at absolutely no cost. It is the only medical center globally that is providing CyberKnife treatment free of any charge.

Furthermore, the government has helped set up five ChildLife ER’s to provide primary, emergency, and preventive pediatric care compliance with international standards. They are strategically located at a maximum of 30 minutes distance for each Karachiite to access pediatric emergency care. Other initiatives vis-à-vis health include South Asia’s largest public-sector Autism Center, Pakistan’s first Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT), and Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto (SMBB) Trauma Center—South Asia’s first Level 1 trauma center.

During the covid pandemic, when the country was facing a hard choice between halting the economic activity or giving up on people’s lives, the Sindh government was the first to impose an all-out lockdown to save the citizens’ life. Since then, its response to COVID has remained unique and prominent throughout because of its proactive approach towards containing and contact tracing and effective implementation of the SOPs. Sindh Government is also the only one to provide home-based free of cost COVID testing to date. They also established a counseling service to help patients cope with the psychological impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Pakistan’s first infectious diseases hospital, Sindh Infectious Diseases Hospital, is a 200 bedded research and treatment facility with HDUs and ICUs.

The city’s cleanliness and maintenance of public places have been another outcry of the citizens. Partly because of deteriorating law and order and mainly because of poor governance at local government’s part, the recreational activities were scarce. Since 2015, the PPP government has taken considerable measures to ensure recreational venues for Karachiites. The establishment of Jahangir Park in less than a year, which is a feat in itself.

Another feat is establishing People’s Square – A modern urban first-of-its-kind park in Karachi, surrounded by historical places like the Arts Council, Burns Garden, SM Law, Arts College, DJ Science College, and National Museum of Pakistan. This recreational space prevents traffic congestion by providing two-level parking spaces, drastically improving the city center’s traffic flow.

The metropolitan now has multiple street libraries to promote reading among people. Renovation work of several historical places like Empress Market, Polo Ground, KMC Building, Bagh Ibn-e-Qaim, Frere Hall, and Karachi Zoological Garden, and several urban forests has also set Karachi’s course back to its glory, perhaps beyond this time.

Other renovation initiatives include but are not limited to Fishermen Chowrangi, Kakri Ground, Shah Rasool Terrace Garden, Landhi Korangi Model Park, etc. The PPP-led Sindh government has also started work on another food street, Boat Basin Food Street, a pedestrian zone with kiosks and more facilities.

The third growing public clamor of people of Karachi has been for better roads. Thus, infrastructure remained a significant concern of the current administration to resolve traffic congestion and save commute time. It has constructed numerous underpasses, overhead bridges, parking spaces, expansion and renovation of roads. This includes an underpass at Tariq Road, another at the Hill Park intersection, a flyover at Tipu Sultan Road intersection, and a signal-free corridor, namely, Shaheed-e-Millat Road, connecting Jail Chowrangi on University Road with Hino Chowrangi. Shaheed-e-Millat road has also been widened with re-carpeting service roads to ensure uninterrupted traffic flow in one of the city’s busiest places.

Road construction on Hawke’s Bay and Sandspit has also been completed. Completion of Malir Expressway will also promote connectivity and reduce the one-hour commute time to 25 minutes. Beautification and renovation of 106 roads, including MA Jinnah Road, Rashid Minhas Road, Main Ancholi, and several others, is also underway.

While several steps have been taken to make Karachiites’ lives easier, much remains to be done. Public Transport and Education now require the government’s attention.

The government of Sindh established two new universities in Karachi and has begun constructing buildings for the shelter-less primary schools expanding it to 300 additional primary and elementary units. While this is a step in the right direction, the government needs to pace up its efforts. The same goes for transportation. The Red Line Project, Pakistan’s first eco-friendly transport system with biogas buses, was delayed due to COVID-19. While Greenline BRT, Karachi Circular Railway, and K-IV, a clean drinking water supply project, has long been in the pipeline due to a lack of funds from the federal government.

Ali Haider is a digital content and advertising specialist, motivational speaker, master trainer and a photojournalist.

Source: The News (Writer: Ali Haider)

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