Going Deep!

At first I thought they’re PTCL guys pulling some new fiber from an older duct that somehow got clogged with rubbish. There was no one around to confirm the same. The second time I saw the stuff – actually a pair of it – I had to stop because I could see a few people around whom I can ask the details. The machine, if it could be called one, appeared crude but seemed strange in design.

A steel bucket was tied to a remote disk type unit which was pulled right through the length of the sewers by means of steel wire rope which was being pulled using a mechanized (diesel engine) pulley. The men working said that these machines were made available around five years ago but have only recently been put to active use. ‘We used to work just at the manholes earlier. This time, it is different. We are cleaning the pipes through out their lengths using these machines. This has never been done before’, said one of the worker at the site.

A later reading at Sewere History showed me that the technology is real old (circa 1900) but is surely needed by the aging sewerage system of Karachi.

Despite so many associated problems, the local government structure is delivering. First time around, when it was the turn of Naimatuallah Sahib et al, younger Karachi citizens witnessed probably for the first time that government can actually put some money into local issues and problems. We saw even the inner lanes of all the towns being machine carpeted. It was nice to be able to walk and drive even in the smaller lanes that suddenly become leveled and smooth. The cosmetic effect was great to the development deprived Karachi.

The present local government as a second term player had to do something better to make sure they score higher than the competition. And probably this competition is the best thing about the overall local government scene in Karachi because the citizens are the ultimate beneficiaries.

At the peril of being labeled the ‘gutter crazy government’, the current CDGK took up work aimed at renewing the essential infrastructure that remains buried down many feet under the road and is yet terribly important to the civic life. It was a sad sight to see the newly carpeted streets being dug up so quickly after the government change but the new work, it later appeared, was too important to go undone for the sake of outer cosmetics.

The city’s population is increasing. The problems are getting complex. But the good news is that albeit slow, Karachi has an adaptive response coming back to its problems.

11 Comments so far

  1. Red_Munk!! (unregistered) on May 7th, 2007 @ 8:46 am

    Kudo’s to cdgk (Naimatullah & present), apart from the Under-pass gafee’s i do not tend to see as many clogged/ “open” gutters as 5 years ago.

    It’s only a start, but IMO a lot still needs to be done.

    Instead of digging up roads every other month to lay down a new pipe/cable, the gov should try and construct side drains with ducts.

    In doing so:
    a) No water (rain or otherwise) would remain stagnent on the roads. (This would greatly reduce havens for bacteria culture & stem the outbreaks of viruses).

    b) Everytime an upgrade needs to be made, the whole road would not have to be dug up. Regardless to say this will save labour & repairing costs + save the commuters the hassle of detours.

    But the way things work here, maybe thats too much of a fantasy. (Regular handing out of contracts to part workers etc).

  2. Umair Salam (unregistered) on May 7th, 2007 @ 10:51 am

    My folks living in Karachi are pretty happy that Karachi is improving, slowly but surely. I’m glad to see some photos – hope people take more photos and post them here and on the karachi flickr group ;)

    Thank you!

  3. New York Giants (unregistered) on May 7th, 2007 @ 5:42 pm

    Little detail of “how” this technology actually works would be nice. Is it like a vacuum cleaner? or a rotating brush…? does it have a camera installed on the head to see where the clogs might be?

  4. Tee Emm (unregistered) on May 7th, 2007 @ 5:50 pm

    @ New York Giants:
    Just see the gif at
    http://www.sewerhistory.org/images/bm/bms5/1910_bms503.gif. Gives an idea of
    the disk that is pulled thru the pipes to clean them of the clogging stuff.

  5. Red_Munk!! (unregistered) on May 7th, 2007 @ 9:47 pm


    (u forgot to remove the “.” at the end).

    Its like u’d clean a barrle of a gun,

    The put the disk in, power on the motor & the ropes pushed/pulled to clear the blockage.

  6. d0ct0r (unregistered) on May 8th, 2007 @ 12:54 am

    like New York Giants mentioned.. other day on discovery channel i saw robotic sewer cleaner which was able to clean clogged lines and was able to repair the PVC lines as well with remote controlled camera operation…

    but honestly our sewer lines in Karachi are too old and even this machine being used is a blessing..

    maybe new cities being developed like Gwadar etc should have state of the art sewer system…

  7. zeeshan syed (unregistered) on May 8th, 2007 @ 9:07 am

    HAVE ANY OF YOU EVER BEEN TO GULISTAN-E-JAUHAR? I am sorry for the CAPS but I really want to write something about the CURRENT state of Gulistan-e-Johar and I would love to see it go on the main page of Karachi.metblogs.com

    Is there any way I could contribute here? There is so much that I want to write but it seems new authors are not welcomed?

  8. umar (unregistered) on May 8th, 2007 @ 6:52 pm

    Zeeshan, currently we don’t have space for more authors. As soon as there are vacancies for authors we will announce it on the blog.

  9. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on May 9th, 2007 @ 1:09 pm

    Where are those automated sweepers which were promised to clean MA JInnah road daily?

  10. zeeshan syed (unregistered) on May 10th, 2007 @ 8:08 am

    Umar: Thanks! I have got sooooo much in mind to write about and no I am not an over-optimistic guy so that means I am gona write hard about the realities we face and so often try to hide with “sub acha hai” beliefs

  11. wasiq (unregistered) on May 19th, 2007 @ 4:18 am


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