The recent revelation that government institutions, both at the provincial and federal levels, collectively owe over Rs 50 billion to the Karachi Water and Sewerage Corporation (KWSC) paints a stark picture of the financial strain faced by this essential organisation. The disclosure, as shared by Karachi Mayor Barrister Murtaza Wahab, who also chairs the board of the KWSC, highlights the challenges arising from the staggering amount of unpaid bills.
This financial burden has significantly impeded the water utility’s ability to manage the increasing operational costs crucial for its essential functions. Particularly alarming is the defaulting trend among major state-owned entities, including the Steel Mill, which have ceased payment for the water supply bills associated with their substantial consumption. Despite multiple reminders, these government institutions have failed to settle their dues, exacerbating the financial woes of the already cash-strapped KWSC.
The revelation that the KWSC bears liabilities amounting to Rs 52 billion, with the Steel Mill being the highest defaulter, sheds light on the critical imbalance between revenue generation and outstanding dues. This stark contrast is further highlighted by Mayor Wahab’s observation that the power utility, with 3.4 million registered consumers, outnumbers the KWSC’s 1.4 million registered consumers, despite serving millions of people regularly.
The recent transformation of the KWSC into a corporation with profit-making objectives signals a proactive attempt to address the organisation’s economic woes. The KWSC Bill of 2023, passed by the Sindh Assembly, grants new powers to the KWSC, positioning the city mayor or administrator of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation as the chairperson of the board. This move empowers the KWSC board to make decisions related to potable water supply, sewage disposal, and the approval of plans and projects, providing a more robust framework for managing the corporation’s structure.
However, the transformation and newfound powers do not guarantee an immediate resolution to the decades-old challenges faced by the KWSC. Mayor Wahab acknowledges the persistent resistance from elements driven by vested political interests. Despite these hurdles, the mayor remains determined, expressing optimism that positive changes are on the horizon. The KWSC’s journey toward financial stability and improved service delivery requires collaborative endeavours, ensuring the efficient and sustainable provision of water and sewerage services to the residents of Karachi.