Monsoon preparations

The first spell of the monsoon season is set to lash across the country. Yet we are once again completely unprepared to deal with the risk of urban flooding and damages to infrastructure. Authorities remain oblivious to their responsibilities as hapless citizens brace themselves for the aftermath.

The meteorological department has already forecast rains in the upper and central parts of the country. The rainfall will end water shortages and reduce the intensity of heat amid the scorching summers. But the blessings often turn into a curse due to the absence of precautionary measures and facilities, leading to loss of life, damages to property and other incidents.

Last year, we witnessed utter devastation from the rainfall in Karachi. The authorities were in a deep slumber for much of the year and have now rushed to minimize damages. However, it may be too little, too late. The rains could lash at any moment and we will once again see a repeat of the carnage or even worse. We suffer every year in the monsoon season due to our shoddy record, weak infrastructure, and lack of preparedness. This takes a huge toll on major cities particularly Karachi and Lahore.

During every monsoon, we have witnessed numerous fatal incidents of building and wall collapses as rains wash away weak structures. Many people lose their lives to electrocutions and other electricity-related accidents. In Karachi, the power utility K-Electric has elevated several grid stations to protect from flooding but outages are expected. Our rescue missions are ill-equipped and cannot carry out relief operations in case of a natural disaster.

It is certain that Karachi will suffer another spell of urban flooding due to the failure of the administration to restore drain networks to manage floods. The campaign to remove encroachments along stormwater drains remains embroiled in legal controversies while others remain choked and have not been cleaned. The roads across the city have been dug for rebuilding and rainfall could worsen the situation.

Pakistan still has not developed an efficient disaster management system. While the northern hilly areas lack a warning system about flash floods and landslides, the rest of the country cannot prevent urban flooding. Due to our unpreparedness, we should be ready to witness even further devastation this time around.