A teenage boy swims along a passenger boat full of men, women and children, to remove plastic bags and ropes from the propeller until the boat reaches clean waters where it can switch its engine and take these island inhabitants to the city.
People living in Manora, Baba Bhit Shah, Shamspeer and Salehbad islands head out to the city through Keamari jetty. Since recent rains have brought piles of garbage through drainage lines, tonnes of plastic bags, empty bottles, chemical sludge, polystyrene foam pieces and fishing debris have cluttered around the area obstructing the marine ways.
“This has become our routine since the recent rains,” said Abdul Razzaq, a boat owner who has been sailing a boat between Keamari and Manora for over 30 years. “The rain waters brought the garbage into the seas and at low tide it entered here. It is still hovering over our waters.” Abdul Razzaq has to swim with the boat or push it out of the jetty without starting its engine because of the garbage dump.
Razzaq said that they pay annual taxes to the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) and felt it is their responsibility to clear the jetty for our safe travelling. He told The Express Tribune that eight passenger boats’ engines have seized in the past one week due to the garbage, which stuck inside the cooling system of the engines or blocked its propeller.
“We are playing our part in removing the garbage with our boats on every trip we make but it still needs a massive cleanup drive either by Pakistan Navy or the KPT, who can use their boats and remove all the waste,” said Khalid Ahmed, another boat owner. “The garbage dump is not only damaging our boats but also affecting passengers who come for picnics.”The jetty at Keamari provides space for over 200 private boats and those of KPT and Pakistan Navy.
“The smell of the water has become horrible due to the garbage but we have no other option but to use the boats,” said Muhammad Farid, a resident of Bhit Island, who travels by boat every day to the city. “The government should have cleared it the day the garbage reached here”.
For their part, KPT insisted that they are cleaning up. The Marine Pollution Control Department of the KPT cleaned the jetty after the rains and they are still working on it, said KPT public relations officer Shafiq Faridi. “The department with its six boats cleans garbage from the coast every day but it flows every day through the drainage lines that pour into the sea.” He suggested setting up more solid waste management plants or treatment plants to resolve this issue in the
Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd, 2013.