Experts suggest empowerment of LG system as solution to problems of Karachi

KARACHI:Experts while identifying the poor governance as core issue of Karachi have suggested that challenges faced by the megapolis could only be addressed by empowering local bodies through judicious distribution of functions, responsibilities and powers among all tiers of the government.

Speaking at a seminar titled “Priorities and solutions to the festering civic problems of Karachi” here on Friday, the experts were of the opinion that major issues of the provincial capital including housing, public health, transport, food and water supply, sewage disposal, education and environment could be addressed by improving the governance system and inclusion of local populace in policy making and project conception.

The seminar was organized by Karachi Citizens’ Forum (KCF) in collaboration with Pakistan Medical Association.

Senior architect and planner Arif Hassan, speaking at the occasion stressed all stakeholders to join hands and initiate a mass signature campaign for better planning and execution of development projects.

He said Karachi required a poor friendly housing policy that could cater the needs of the large segment of society who otherwise compelled to live in ‘Katchi Abadis’ in unhealthy conditions. Anti encroachment drives without consideration would not be a solution but a problem instead as they result in surfacing of new Katchi Abadis, he opined.

Arif Hassan said consultation with concerned stakeholders in the planning stage was necessary so that needs of local populace could be assessed.

Convener Karachi Citizens’ Forum, Nargis Rehman, said challenges made the Karachi the 5th least livable city on the planet as environmental issues like noise and air pollution has caused more deaths than COVID-19 in the city.

Co-convener KCF Dr S M Qaiser Sajjad stressed on the need of coordination among all tiers of government and their active role for addressing the challenges being faced by Karachi.

The former Mayor Karachi, Faheem uz Zaman, termed the poor governance as fundamental issue and said right of management to local populace could change the situation.

All the festering issues could be addressed by improving the governance system through empowerment of local government and civic bodies, judicious distribution of functions, responsibilities and powers among all tiers of government.

Prominent economist, Kaiser Bangali said fragmentation of civic service providers, lack of coordination among them and lack of constitutional provision about local government were among the leading issues which required immediate attention.

He proposed that a complete chapter on local governance should be included in the constitution which clearly defines the structure, and its functions, responsibilities and powers.

Local government structure must be integrated and a single agency should be delegated powers and responsibilities to deal with all the civic issues and provision of basic amenities to citizens of certain areas.

Secretary PMA Karachi, Dr Abdul Gaffar Shoro while referring to studies of the World Bank informed that air, water and noise pollution were the leading cause of various cardiovascular and respiratory ailments and psychological disorders.

Town Planner, Touheed ur Rehman non implementation of master plans further aggravated the civic problems and areas with low income population suffered the most. A comprehensive and consolidate mechanism was needed to address problems of low income groups, he remarked.

Urban Planner, Farhan Anwar, following the 18th constitutional amendment powers had to be devolved from provincial government to local governments but instead of that local government bodies were deprived of them.

Urban planning lacked continuity while informal sectors of economy were neglected, he said and added that consolidate political will was the first step toward improvement of civic infrastructure of mega cities.