With an aim to give the city a better look, Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar kicked off a 100-day cleanliness campaign from District Korangi’s Shah Faisal No 2. On Thursday morning, Akhtar, broom in hand, swept the road himself along with District Municipal Corporation (DMC) Korangi officials.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM)-Pakistan head Dr Farooq Sattar swept roads in District East’s Gulshan-e-Iqbal and MQM’s deputy senior convener, Muhammad Amir Khan, started off the cleanliness campaign in District Central’s Liaquatabad.

Earlier in March, the MQM kicked off the same drive with as much zeal by removing political and hateful graffiti sprayed on walls, including party slogans. However, the campaign ended midway with no fruitful results.

Akhtar’s current campaign will cover three districts – East, Korangi and Central – in the first phase. The mayor has announced a plan to construct a hospital, school and park in some union committees in these districts. The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation will help the DMCs in these districts.

However, according to the Sindh Local Government Act (SLGA), 2013, cleanliness is no longer under the purview of the KMC or DMCs and once the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board becomes functional by the start of the next year, the DMCs will not be responsible for garbage collection in the city either.

For this purpose, the Sindh government has inked an agreement with a Chinese company, Changyi Kangjie Sanitation Engineering Company, to lift garbage door-to-door in East and South districts. The MQM has expressed its reservations over handing over garbage collection to the Chinese company without taking them into confidence.

Issue of funds

Meanwhile, the KMC’s employees’ union president, Zulfiqar Ali Shah, told The Express Tribune that the department has 250 vehicles for garbage collection in the city, out of which only 110 are functional, which help the DMCs lift garbage on a daily basis.

He said that all the DMCs in the city have 550 functional and as many faulty vehicles. Currently, he said that in order to clean the backlog of garbage accumulating in the city for years, KMC’s vehicles will work along with those of the DMC’s. However, he pointed out that after the SLGA, 2013, KMC is no longer allowed to collect garbage in the city.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way

DMC Central’s chairman, Rehan Hashmi, said that they have selected five union committees in their district in which to initiate the cleanliness campaign. He said that different universities and college students and managements are on board with them as well.

District Central alone has 80,000 tons of garbage in the backlog, he said, which they plan to remove. Simultaneously, he said that they will eliminate all the illegal garbage collection points in the district and repair and beautify footpaths and roads.

While speaking to the media, Akhtar assured that soon the public will notice the clean roads in the city. “We have urged the federal and provincial governments as much we could,” he said. “Now we will work with the help of the public and available resources.”

According to him, they have managed funds after controlling many leakages in the KMC. He said that one cannot fool the public and they have not been given the powers under the Constitution’s Article 148’s true spirit.

Amid the cleanliness campaign, MQM-London activists blocked the road and shouted slogans against MQM-Pakistan. Responding to them, Akhtar said that those who have tried to stop them have had their faces revealed to the public.

MQM addresses media

Meanwhile, MQM-Pakistan leader Amir Khan urged the students of the city to help them in their campaign. He pointed out that the city has suffered the most under the government of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

He said that when they try to work for the city’s welfare, ‘namaloom afraad [unidentified people]’ try to stop them. He asked why those who shouted slogans against Pakistan come to Pakistan.

Talking to the media, Dr Sattar said that MQM’s mayor is everyone’s mayor and they would need support of all the political parties in the city. Apart from Karachi, he said that they would start their campaigns even in those cities of the Sindh where they did not get votes.