KARACHI: As the metropolis saw its hottest day in 62 years on Friday, citizens might be forgiven for thinking the monsoon would provide them some respite. But the day’s downpour only seemed to exacerbate their misery.
As the heat interspersed with heavy rainfall, the city was plagued by never-ending power cuts, flooded roads, traffic jams and the authorities’ hollow claims of taking preemptive measures in the face of the monsoon season.
Prior to the rain, the temperature shot up to 42.6 degrees Celsius. Before this, the highest temperature in the stated period was recorded in July, 1958, when the temperature soared to 42.2 degrees Celsius.
Later, the heat spell broke as it rained heavily in the evening, cooling the city down to 31 degrees Celsius.
A police constable was reportedly electrocuted to death while on duty at Ibrahim Hyderi on Friday night. The deceased, identified as Arshad Ali, 30, was taken to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC).
Meanwhile, electricity supply to multiple areas of the city was suspended just a few minutes into the rainfall, making matters worse for citizens who have been subjected to extensive load-shedding despite soaring temperatures this summer.
Korangi, Malir, Landhi, Shah Faisal Colony, Surjani Town, Baldia Town, Orangi Town, Liaquatabad, Keamari and Gulshan-e-Maymar, among other areas, were most affected by power suspension.
Power cuts following the rain persist despite the increased supply of gas and furnace oil to K-Electric (KE) in recent days. Sources in KE, who asked not to be named, claimed that the power utility had replaced copper wires with silver wires that contracted due to heat, resulting in broken wires, tripped transformers and faults in transformers.
Exasperated citizens claimed that upon calling the KE helpline, they were told that the power suspension was a consequence of cable faults. On the other hand, a KE spokesperson maintained that the power supply was deliberately suspended as a safety measure. He added that KE staff was available to deal with emergencies as he appealed to citizens to stay away from electricity cables and poles.
The statement came in the wake of multiple electrocution deaths in an earlier spell of monsoon rains.
Meanwhile, rainwater flooded the old surgical ward at JPMC – Karachi’s largest public hospital. The flooding inconvenienced patients and attendants as water stood several inches high in the ward.
Commenting on the matter, JPMC executive director Dr Seemin Jamali said suction pumps had been installed and water from most part of the ward had been drained. She added that the ward was no longer being used for out-patient services, implying that it had been lying redundant.
Commotion on the streets
Meanwhile, as rain flooded roads and streets in Saddar, a wall collapsed on half a dozen cars on II Chundrigar Road.
The car owners told The Express Tribune that they had parked their vehicles adjacent to a vacant plot with a boundary wall nearby their offices. As gales started blowing and it began to rain, the wall collapsed, crushing their cars and causing them significant financial loss, they said. The rubble is to be cleared today (Saturday).
In the meantime, the rest of Saddar, as well as old city areas, Garden and other localities saw flooding in the absence of a proper drainage system.
In previous years, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and Karachi Water and Sewerage Board would install dewatering pumps to ensure rainwater drainage on the city’s main arteries before the onset of monsoon, but no such measures were taken this time around.
Consequently, long queues of vehicles choked inundated roads across the city, including Sharae Faisal, Sharae Pakistan and roads at Tariq Road, Zainab Market, Liaquatabad, Teen Hatti, Bahadurabad, Millenium Mall and Korangi.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Abu Bakr, who was returning home from work said, “I have no way to reach home easily. There is knee-deep water in some parts of Saddar.”
More to come
Pakistan Meteorological Department chief meteorologist Sardar Sarfaraz attributed the current spell of rain to a low-pressure system developing in Karachi’s south, forecasting that showers would continue to batter the city until tomorrow (Sunday} night. He predicted heavy to moderate rainfall today (Saturday).
According to Sarfaraz, another rain spell is expected in the city on July 24, following which it will rain for three consecutive days.
Too little, too late
Meanwhile, Sindh Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah ordered emergency measures to deal with the downpour’s consequences.
He said that an emergency had been declared in all districts of the city, with municipal and deputy commissioners ordered to take required measures to deal with rain emergencies, particularly in choking points, bottlenecks and low-lying areas.
The minister further said that emergency monitoring units had been made fully operational. Besides, he ordered all local government officials to continue the cleaning of drains and directed the local government secretary and other relevant officers to take pre-emptive measures, such as appointing staff for solid waste management, cleaning drains and installing dewatering machines at key points, ahead of the next rainfall.
Shah stressed the need to take measures to avoid the pooling of rainwater in underpasses and instructed municipal commissioners to personally monitor the situation in their respective districts.
Claiming that administrative measures regarding rainfall had been taken earlier, he expressed hope that the situation would return to normal after the current spell of spell ended.
This is the second monsoon spell to have wreaked havoc in Karachi this year