The Municipal services are among the most important services rendered by the Municipalities or Municipal corporations globally including Pakistan. The Poor Planning, absence of Master plans for the urban cities have made the urban population of the cities prone Environmental, the Social and Economic performance of the cities such as Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, Hyderabad and others.
The thematic areas of Municipal corporations include Clean drinking water, Sanitation, Sewerage, Waste Management, Streets, Lighting, Emergency or rescue services such as Ambulances, basic Health facilities, social and community welfare activities such event management, recreational services, Public Safety, Transportation and roads, Bus, Van and Taxi Terminals, Parks and zoos for amusement and recreation.
The essential services include such as schools, colleges, Playgrounds etc. These facilities are mentioned in UN-Habitat Essential services and Practices policy especially recommended for the whole world as mentioned in Istanbul “Declaration on Human Settlements”.
The Municipal committees and Municipal Corporation generate funds from various sources such as property and estate owned by them given on lease or rent to the people and the income generated is used on provisions of various essential services.
The Municipal Committees or corporations also auctions various contracts to the general public such as Cattle Markets, Vegetable and Fruit markets, Transport Services and accrues a handsome amount in millions from them.
The funds are spent for the general public on the provision of clean drinking water, Education and Health facilities, Emergency, Infrastructure such as roads, Parks, Public Libraries, Community centres, Auditoriums, Marriage Halls. The Municipalities also earn from these services and cover their operation and maintenance costs.
With ever-growing Population and massive urbanization, it is very difficult for this organization to cater to the needs of the population at such a large scale. The meagre budgets allocated on the basis of smaller Population puts municipalities on the test as this organization struggle to meet the requirements of the common people.
There are also reports that misappropriation in the local government funds, Mismanagement, incompetence, Political involvement, non-cader employees has wreaked havoc with these local government Organizations. The political and fake appointments lead affecting their proper function and heavy burden on their operational and maintenance budget.
The Chief Municipal Officers are often appointed on nepotism, favouritism and sold like the commodity to those who could afford since there is no proper recruitment policy that may bring a constructive and lasting change in improving the indispensable Municipal services to provide relief to the Urban Population.
There is also a serious problem of misuse of funds in other activities beyond the purview of the municipality such as repair and renovation of bungalows of Political figures, purchase of vehicles beyond the Limit and corrupt practices of fake appointments or Ghost appointments.
The local funds are transferred to bank accounts as these funds are not routed or passed through government treasuries. The lower sanitation staffs are mostly affected as these are not paid on time.
Even, their pension cases are delayed on the pretext of shortage of funds. Actually, funds are utilized by the Influential Elected representatives the Municipal Committee or Tehseel councils and District Councils.
The local Government system introduced by General Parvez Musharraf was much better than existing municipals services since the finance department and Planning Departments were devolved at the district level and the districts had financial autonomy in fund spending.
But, nowadays, people knock the doors of MPAs and MNAs for minor development work of Crosses, CC Blocks, Small bridges over canals, repairs of link roads. The Sustainable, efficient and integrated municipal services lead to facilitate people enormously and boost urban development.
The clean drinking water is the basic need of people but unfortunately, access to clean and safe drinking water is still a far cry in various big and small cities especially Karachi, Sukkur.
The lethargic and incompetent municipal authorities have messed up the issue of water supply as so far these water distribution channels have not repaired and maintained to fulfil the needs of the ever-growing population. The water supply is often contaminated with sewage thus creating various water-borne diseases and environmental challenge for the People.
The Government should take the issue seriously and ensure the provision of Safe and Pure drinking water to minimize the chances of various diseases.
The transportation or mobility is yet another key component of Municipal which is also being neglected, The Poor infrastructure of Streets, Roads and Drainage system causing various environmental challenges. The Streets and roads are often inundated with sewage water thus making the movement of the people very difficult. The Municipalities should study various models and implement the best model given the conditions and challenges being faced with.
There are also the biggest issues of proper waste management. The heaps of garbage lying in every street poses a grave threat to public health warrants the municipal authorities and the provincial Government to chalk out plan dispose of the waste so that the environmental challenges may be curbed.
Through Sindh Government has established Sindh Solid Waste Management Board to carry out waste management in Karachi Metropolitan Area but such initiative is needed at every District level so that proper waste management practices may be utilized to make the environment clean for the living.
Punjab has also established various waste management companies to manage waste in the Public sector such as Gujranwala Waste Management Company, Lahore Waste Management Company, Multan Waste Management Company, etc. There is strong need to expand such waste management Companies Network throughout Punjab at District Level. The ADB funded Projects such as Sindh Cities Improvement Program established North Sindh Urban Services Corporation (NSUSC) at Sukkur and South Sindh Urban Services but these failed to deliver the desired results of waste and sewage since people started complaining against these due to their inability to fulfil the needs of The People.
There are also reports that Municipal employs had hatched a plot to fail these services so that they may regain the responsibility and misuse the funds as practices earlier.
The other missing key component is education. The Municipal Administration in Sindh, Punjab, Baluchistan and KPK have failed to provide basic education by establishing municipal Models School to impart education to people living in municipal limits and suburbs. Education leads the development of the nation but neglecting the Education component will cause backwardness and rise of criminal activities.
Finally, Municipal services are essential for the people living in the cities and the quality of Municipal services could be improved by studying various Models and implementing the best model as per the needs and circumstances. The proper solid waste management practices at the District and Tehsil level may be practised to get rid of the heaps of solid waste. The Solid Waste can be converted into Energy by producing electricity from the waste as practices India and other countries.
The Provision of clean drinking water may be ensured by setting up RO plants. The emergency services such as Fire Brigade Staff, Ambulance Services and rescue services in case Natural Disasters may be ensured so that the real spirit of Municipal services may be revitalized.
Though the urban Policy Units are established in three provinces, yet there is need to strengthen these policy units to give policy advice on solid waste management and effective Municipal services to transform cities into engines of growth to bring economic Boom.
The Urban Unit Lahore, Urban policy directorate Karachi and Urban Policy Unit KPK have done a tremendous job by introducing best practices in the urban economy, Transportation, Housing, water and Sanitation and Solid Waste Management Technologies to transform the urban cities into growth engines through implementation of the effective Urban Policy.