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3 Sep

Clifton Beach teeming with biohazardous waste, Shaniera Akram shares chilling video

With heavy rains battering Karachi over the last couple of weeks, the city has effectively turned into a steaming pile of sewage and garbage. Refusing to offer the city any respite, the weather has also turned the main attraction of Karachi, the Clifton Beach, into a garbage dump.

Strong wings and monsoon at the coast have meant that tons of garbage dumped in the ocean has washed ashore; much like as though the city’s nightmares have come back to haunt them. Several kilometers of garbage has piled up on the coastline in the past week and there seems to be no authority in motion to clean it up.



Shaniera Akram has brought the issue to light first on her Twitter. It seems as though no one cared enough to go down and report on it, however, Shaniera — who also runs the Akram Foundation — took it upon herself to bring attention to the problem, and cited the city’s rubbish situation as one of the problems to be worried about. However, just two days later, on another trip to the Sea View, it seems as though she realized the urgency of the situation. It isn’t just any rubbish on the beach, it’s medical waste.



Having medical waste wash ashore on a beach that is open to the public at all hours of the day is a bigger problem that it may seem; it can include open needle syringes, infectious waste, expired chemicals and pharmaceuticals. This waste is considered biohazardous and brings with it the risk of exposure to pathological waste, and the risk from sharps, that is syringes and scalpels; it’s alarming to know that according to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 40% of hepatitis cases and 12% of HIV cases worldwide are caused by exposure to sharps by mistake.



In an effort to mobilize relevant authorities and news channels to cover the issue and close the beach to public, Shaniera started a thread on Twitter to expose the situation for what it really is, and declaring a state of emergency down at the beach.



The situation is indeed alarming, and even more so when you realize that the waste has been at the beach for quite some time now and has either been ignored, dug deeper into the sands, or left for the ocean to take back. The strip of beach that Shaniera refers to in her tweet is right across Karachi’s posh locality, and the contrast is striking. Not just that, there are a number of eateries and even a children’s amusement park right there. Shaniera’s tone of urgency, if nothing else, should be treated as a loud cry for help from the city of Karachi itself.



She also made sure to alert the public to avoid making any efforts to clean the beach themselves, since the waste isn’t just garbage at this point. It’s waste that needs to be handled with care and by professionals. Declaring the beach as a #BioHazardZone seems like the only sensible thing right now till relevant authorities feel like it’s a matter urgent enough to be handled right away, which seems unlikely right now, but hopefully we’re wrong.

Here’s to hoping that the authorities take immediate notice and start a clean-up drive as soon as possible, because if there’s one thing that Karachiites can’t and don’t want to lose, is our beloved Sea View.


Yumna Aftab