IT is no surprise that rains on Sunday and Monday set off alarm bells across Karachi. After all, memories of July’s torrential downpour, which dumped a near-record eight inches of rain on the metropolis, are still fresh in the minds of most residents.
The previous bout of wet weather left around 50 people dead, while over 100 were reportedly injured. The city’s tenuous link with power also snapped, leaving some parts of Karachi without electricity for three days. Due to the lesser amount of rainfall (35mm) on Sunday, the city did not witness scenes of massive flooding on its roads or the chaos that inevitably ensues as a result. Relatively thinner traffic on the roads due to the weekly holiday also helped. Nevertheless, many key thoroughfares were inundated, while according to some reports four people were electrocuted. The situation on Monday was far worse with many roads chock-a-block with traffic. Power supply was suspended in several areas as soon as the first drops of rain fell. Although the KESC claimed that none of its grids had been affected, reports of electricity cuts from various localities makes the power utility’s claim questionable.
While foolproof protection from the intensity of nature’s forces is obviously hard to come by, there is nothing to stop the authorities from planning ahead and removing manmade hurdles that aggravate matters. Encroachments on storm-water drains — a problem highlighted by the city nazim — as well as blockages created in the natural flow of storm-water must be removed forthwith if the same sorry tale is not to be repeated each time it rains. Though the KESC has launched a media campaign to warn the public about the dangers of snapped wires and other rain-related hazards, it must do more to actually protect the transmission and distribution system during inclement weather.