Barrister Murtaza Wahab said on Tuesday that the suggestion of Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar to the residents of the city not to pay their taxes to the government of Sindh is tantamount to encouraging them to commit an act of civil disobedience.
Speaking to the press at the Sindh Assembly, the statutory advisor to the prime minister said that trying to split the individuals is an ancient practice of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM)— the political party to which the mayor is linked.
Wahab said that instead of accepting its own failures, the MQM always attempts to make the people fight one another, adding that the mayor’s statement is condemnable and that the leadership of Akhtar’s political party should take notice of it.
The adviser said that the city’s people are well aware of the mayor’s “ineligibility” and that Akhtar is looking for an escape route but the people will not let him flee. “I myself am an Urdu-speaking Sindhi Pakistani, and I consider Sindh my motherland. But the MQM always indulges in the contradictory policy of saying the province is their motherland when they have to visit interior Sindh, and when they have to play their heinous political game on Karachi’s situation they advocate the province’s division.”
Wahab said that being the spokesman for the provincial government, he completely rejects the mayor’s statement and considers it an attempt to wage politics of Sindh’s division.
Stop paying taxes
Earlier in the day, while talking to the media, the mayor asked the people of Karachi to stop paying their taxes to the Sindh government. He said that the citizens of the city pay Rs350 billion in taxes but their problems are not addressed by anyone.
He advised the residents of Karachi to launch peaceful protests across the city so that the basic problems could be highlighted and resolved. He pointed out that the streets are littered with heaps of garbage and overflowing sewage.
He said that CM Syed Murad Ali Shah is responsible for all of this because he holds the charge of the chairman of the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board as well as the Karachi Water & Sewerage Board (KWSB).
Akhtar was talking to the media at the launch of a clean-up campaign in Malir Town’s Saudabad area in District Korangi with the collaboration of Bahria Town.
The mayor said the campaign they started will result in temporary convenience but it is not a permanent solution. “The water accumulated in the streets is not rainwater but overflowing sewage, and the problem can be solved only when the KWSB and the SSWMB mend their ways.”
He said that these organisations are Shah’s. “The SSWMB spent Rs24 billion on cleaning in Karachi but could not get us rid of tonnes of garbage present on the streets.” Meanwhile, an MQM delegation visited the KWSB’s office to see its Managing Director Asadullah Khan. The delegation included Korangi District Municipal Corporation Chairman Nayyar Raza, the Rabita Committee’s Aminul Haq and other party members.
Haq asked the MD to pay attention to the overflowing gutters in the city. He also asked to ensure proper distribution of water in the city.
In the meeting Raza gave a hard time to Khan. He got angry with the MD on not being able to resolve the sewage issue in District Korangi for the past three years. “The MD water board should add Bhutto or Bilawal with his name.”
A day earlier, the SSWMB had terminated the contract of a Chinese firm for front-end collection and disposal of municipal solid waste for District West. According to a letter written by the board to Hangzhou Jinjiang Group Sanitation Service, a contract was issued to them to collect and dispose of solid waste of District West on October 11, 2017.
In accordance with the contract agreement and the bidding documents, the contractor had to bring the requisite number of equipment, machinery, vehicles and manpower as well as establish a Command & Control System to start the operations.
However, the letter stated, the company from day one to date had miserably failed to comply with its contractual obligations despite being given directives and notices repeatedly. “Resultantly, the operations have suffered and touched the lowest ebb of its standards and remained far from satisfactory, causing misery to the residents of the area.”
The letter mentions that upon the failure to perform the company’s obligation under the subject contract, several notices and show-cause notices were issued to the contractor, which remained unheard and unnoticed. This, stated the letter, has deteriorated the situation of sanitation in the district and tainted the reputation of the SSWMB.
The first show-cause notice was issued to the company on December 5, 2018 to perform in line with the terms and conditions stipulated in the contract agreement and the request for proposal (RFP), but that went in vain. “In fact, the company did not bother to reply to the notice, revealing their unserious attitude towards their contractual legal obligation.”
Considering the seriousness of the matter and in public interest, the matter was taken up by the judicial commission on water issues that was mandated by the Supreme Court.
The company made certain commitments regarding the improvement in the performance and fulfilment of their contractual obligations before the judicial commission, but regretfully failed to honour its commitments, according to the letter.
Another show-cause notice was served to the company on March 3 this year due to the miserable failure of the contractor to perform his legal obligations as mutually agreed upon under the contract, unserious attitude and in terms of the orders passed by the judicial commission on December 14, 2018.
The letter also mentions that in response to the show-cause notice, the board expected the company to improve its performance and legally binding obligations, but contrarily, the company suspended its entire operations to date and submitted a revised proposal.
The board considered the response of the reply and the revised proposal of the contractor unsatisfactory and unconvincing. The contractor, according to the letter, admitted its failure to perform its contractual obligations, which the board believes is tantamount to the company’s acceptance of its financial and technical incapacitation.
With the concurrence of the competent authority, which is the chairman of the SSWMB, and in terms of different clauses of the contract agreement and sections of the RFP, the contract is terminated. “The financial claims of the contractor and the counter-claims of the board shall be adjudicated by the arbitrator under the Arbitration Act of 1940.”