Expensive water

The water shortage problem in Karachi has been worsening with every passing year. The city’s water supplies have shrunk to the point at which large proportions of the population are at the mercy of the water mafias that control the tanker fleets, and potable water out of the tap in the home or workplace is an increasingly rare commodity. In large part, this is due to failures in water supply infrastructure — existing infrastructure failing as it ages — and new infrastructure is not being developed in one of the more glaring examples of poor urban governance in the entire country.

Once again the Chinese have come to the rescue. The World Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the latter based in Beijing, are to co-finance a project that will hopefully raise the operational capacity of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board and put the tanker mafias out of business. The AIIB has approved a $160 million loan to the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) and the Sindh government is to contribute $80 million with the WB providing another $160 million. The overall cost of the project is $400 million but as is the norm cost overruns may be expected. The financially shaky KWSB will be restored to stability and it will create an enabling environment for the future private sector investments in water supply and solid waste management.

Anything that improves the miserable lives of millions of Karachiites has to be welcomed and welcome it we do — but with the inevitable caveats. The city is an unregulated sprawl that is growing exponentially. The city management is unable to keep up with the infrastructure needs of the population and the iron grip of criminality is a further constraint on development. With a new government by the same party that has ruled with a monumental incompetence for years, there is little prospect of the city being any better governed than it was prior to the election. More thirsty days ahead.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2018.

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    Original news : https://tribune.com.pk/story/1769639/6-expensive-water/