Govt fails to rehabilitate Abbas Town bombing survivors despite passage of over 1 year

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Pakistan
Wednesday, 18 June 2014

abbas-town-destroyed-flatsThe Sindh government is yet to fulfil its promises of complete rehabilitation of the victims of last year’s Abbas Town bombings, one of the bloodiest sectarian attacks in Karachi’s recent history.

The provincial government had assured the affected people that their shops and flats – which were either badly damaged or destroyed in the massive twin explosions that ripped through the Shia neighbourhood on March 3, 2013 and claimed at least 48 lives – would be rebuilt within less than a year.

However, 15 months have gone by and the victims are still living in either rented apartments or with helpful friends and relatives. At least 57 apartments and 30 shops were partially or completely destroyed as the fronts of two apartment projects, Rabia Flower and Iqra City, bore the brunt of the explosions.

The government had announced that the damaged properties would be repaired and handed back to the people at the earliest. However, though the work was apparently completed a month ago, a bureaucratic logjam still persists, the area residents claim.

“You cannot live at a friend or relative’s house forever,” said Mohammad Ismail, a resident of Rabia Flower who moved in with his in-laws living on Abul Hasan Ispahani Road, “The government had promised that we would get our houses back within a year. Now we can see that the repair work has been finished but they are still making us wait.”

Members of the committee entrusted with the task of completing the reconstruction contended that the delay was caused by the late issuance of a cheque, which was only cleared a few days back.

“Yes, we were supposed to handover the properties to the owners, but a payment of Rs16.2 million had been held back and was only recently approved by the chief minister,” said Syed Mohammad Naqi, the convener of the five-member reconstruction committee headed by renowned Shia scholar Allama Talib Jauhari. “I hope we will be able distribute the keys within a few weeks.”

However, private organisations that worked in the area after the blasts say the work has taken too long. “The reconstruction should not have taken more than five months,” said Zafar Abbas, the secretary general of JDC Welfare Organisation, an NGO that helped temporarily resettle many people – paying the rent and advance amounts for over a dozen affected families.

“At a press conference, we had openly offered to build the houses and shops within five months. However, there was no actual response and the government has now taken over a year and a half already.”

City Commissioner Shoaib Siddiqui also said that the project was ready and all properties would be handed over to the owners soon. “The work is almost complete. I think we will be able to handover the project by the end of this month,” he said.

For the affected families, however, the misery continues to mount with each passing day and all such announcements remain simply meaningless.

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