Our dependency syndrome
In 2016, a Chinese company was awarded a contract for garbage collection in the districts South and East of Karachi at the rate of US$ 26 per ton – a rate 8 times higher than what was being paid to a local company for the same job. The Chinese company failed to bring in the required equipment, employ sufficient persons or to perform the task satisfactorily. The performance was so abysmal that that the Judicial Commission on Water and Sanitation, had to state that “If the Chinese companies are not acting according to the contract, the agreement should be revoked”.
As if overflowing with dollars and a desire for their urgent distribution, the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board has once again issued an international tender for sweeping, collection and transportation of municipal solid waste. Clearly the nuclear state finds itself incapable of the complex task and technology involved in lifting and transporting its own garbage.
We treat our own janitorial staff like dirt, and give them wages as low as Rs.11,100 per month (current wages of sweepers who clean the roads of Defence and Clifton). Likewise, we paid Rs 320 per ton to our own local companies for garbage collection in Karachi while we are willing to pay 8 times more and that too in dollars to the foreign companies.
The recent announcement that the Asian Development Bank has agreed to provide an assistance (read loan) of $358.83 million to the Sindh Government to support a number of development projects, well explains our dependency syndrome. One of the world’s poorest countries prefers to borrow dollars from abroad for its basic development projects, while simultaneously passing them on to other foreign companies for tasks as ordinary as garbage collection. Can someone in the Sindh government please respond to this two-pronged sickness?