KARACHI: First came the spell of heavy monsoon rain that left much of the port city waterlogged. Then came the endless suffering.
After rains lashed Karachi last week millions of residents were exposed to urban flooding. While some areas have recovered and others are on the path to recovery, the residents of the city’s upmarket Defence Housing Authority area are still waiting for help.
Home to those who operate in the top tier of the pecking order, including the President of Pakistan, the current provincial chief minister, and a long list of power players in the city, the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) can easily qualify as a disaster zone after the rains that paralyzed much of the city.
Irked residents, who claim they pay the highest property taxes in town, said the area is neglected by those who are at the helm of affairs at DHA and the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC).
“The house that I’ve lived in all my life, the house that I’ve paid heavy taxes for, the house that has all our memories, is flooded today,” said Sughra, a resident of DHA Phase 4. Sughra is an elderly woman, who suffers from a chronic respiratory condition that requires extra oxygen to meet breathing needs. Her daughter said their house is flooded and everything at ground level is damaged.
Across much of DHA, streets and homes were flooded with rain and sewage water last week. The drainage and sewage systems, residents believe was either already clogged or never functional. A realtor who operates from DHA Phase 2 commercial market said the sprawling upscale area, which spans over 9,000 acres, has the most expensive properties in town but fewer facilities for its residents. The majority of its 81,500 residents are retired armed forces officers, politicians, bureaucrats, and capitalists.
Scenes of residents wading through the waterlogged streets of DHA are still common. In some areas, the water is still waist-high and has not receded. Residents claim they have received no help from the CBC, which along with DHA is responsible for the upkeep of the area.
Aerial footage, shared by Usama Qureshi, an active Karachi-based Twitter user, shows vast swathes of DHA are still flooded. Captured by a drone, the footage shows the extent of damage caused by the heavy downpour that battered the city last week.
The CBC has a large screen-size pop up on its website which displays a huge banner message ‘ In case of an accident during the rain — Just a call away’. Despite calling those phone numbers listed on the website, residents claim they have not received any help.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker, Shahzad Qureshi said: “PTI representatives are working with CBC and DHA.” He claimed the situation in the area has improved significantly.
“The CBC and DHA administrators have assured us that all necessary actions will be taken to prevent flooding in DHA,” the lawmaker added.
Qureshi, who serves as the PS 111 representative in the provincial assembly, assured his constituents that he was working closely with the CBC and DHA management to address all complaints.
According to details residents from all over DHA plan to assemble outside the CBC office today at midday. The former Karachi Electric CMO and Chief of Staff said, residents, will gather for a peaceful protest and urge CBC administration to fix the drainage system, review the construction and repair of roads, ensure accountability and audit of taxes collected in the name of flood relief, and ensure regular water supply to residents, who are paying an exuberant amount of money to the private tanker mafia in the area.