Oct 31 - Nov 6, 2011

The medical experts and civil society representatives have pointed out that the huge stock of import tires could be a possible carrier and breeding for dengue virus. If it is true, there is a need to put an immediate ban on the import of tires from abroad specially neighboring country to stop creation of springboards of dengue.

A group of senior citizens visited the tire markets at M.A. Jinnah Road generally called plaza spare parts market and the Mall Road Lahore where they observed that imported tires were stockpiled in the shops and stores. Most of these tires were in a damaged packing, which could be a perfect breeding place for Aedes mosquitoes.

This problem becomes more serious with all larger size tires for truck/bus and in particular farm tires, since these cannot be wrapped and are therefore sent unwrapped from neighboring countries.

Since the imported tires are produced and kept in the respective companies/countries warehouses for a longer period before these are shipped out to Pakistan, they remain to be a haven and a breeding ground for dengue.

Locally manufactured tires on the other hand are produced and soon after dispatched for sale to either the vehicle assemblers who in turn mount them on the vehicles or these tires end up at shops that do not hold the stocks generally for more than a few days before being sold.

The dengue fever recently turned into an epidemic claiming more than 300 lives only in Punjab while thousands have been affected across Pakistan. Medical experts from Sri Lanka and Thailand had declared tires stocks a possible dengue-breeding source and had recommended removal of the same. Since both the countries have surplus capacities of tires in relation to their local demand, they stock these extra tires to be sold to countries like Pakistan.

Civil society representatives said that while the Punjab government faces the challenge to control dengue outbreak, the federal government is continuing to import more of the breeding source from a country none other than India and our porous borders are allowing its smuggling on a massive scale as well.

They said while the civil society demands from the government to put a ban on import of tires, a thorough survey should be conducted of existing stocks both in markets and godown as the tires with packing will show evidence of breeding of mosquitoes larvae.

On an inquiry, it was revealed that only imported tires are stocked in the market in huge quantity while locally produced tires are mostly supplied directly to carmakers and that too on daily basis and daily production is consumed by the carmakers, which leave no chances of stocking of the same.

Sources in the industry reveal that out of a local demand of passenger cars' tires of around two million tires, only 43 per cent are produced locally while 37 per cent are imported and 20 per cent brought in illegally through smuggling.

They further said that in the category of light truck tires, the situation is more alarming where annual local consumption is 1.8 million tires. Only 15 per cent is filled by locally made tires, while 33 per cent is imported and rest around 52 per cent is smuggled.

A car manufacturer revealed that the tire consignments from local producers are not only received on first in first out basis, removing any chance of storage even for a day, but they also ensure that the deliveries on daily basis are fumigated both at manufacturers' plants.

The car manufacturer said that since the tires are a heavy item on government's deletion list, mostly all three major car manufacturers use locally made tires.

The experts said that the fact that imported tires are stockpiled in godowns makes them more vulnerable to such storage.

The industry sources said that if the Punjab government wants to put an end to dengue outbreak, it will have to first of all do something about the imported stocked tires, while putting a ban for at least a year on import of such tires. Such a measure will not make our roads empty, an expert remarked.

Actually the dengue virus becomes more noticeable than other water born diseases because of rising number of death toll especially in Punjab, otherwise the society needs an emergency health plan to counter water born diseases threatening to quality of life in our society.

Drinking Water: It is unfortunate that the supply of water through taps in all urban centers, what to speak of the rural areas of the country, is not hygienic and not fit for human consumption. Hence, a large majority of the people living in urban areas have to buy the so called mineral water. Apart from a few brands, majority of these so called brands mineral water are also not free from germs. It is quite important to mention that poor sewerage and dilapidated sewerage lines and water supply lines are running side by side and the sewerage water mixes up with the broken water supply lines. This is a horrible situation as the infected water causes a number of water born diseases especially the deadly hepatitis and kidney infections. It should be taken as a challenge by the civic bodies to ensure supply of germs free drinking water.

Overflowing Gutters: The poor and damaged sewerage system everywhere in Karachi has created a pool of sewerage water, which is a common sight in the city. In fact, the cumulated dirty water is the factory of mosquito production. Our civic bodies make tall claims of serving the people and get their news and pictures published in media. But, it is all for public consumption. The ground reality is far from their tall claims. It will be surprising to know that Scheme 33 in Karachi, which is the largest residential scheme in Asia, is without sewerage lines as no civic body was given the task of outer development of this largest residential scheme. Who is responsible for this criminal neglect-a question to ponder upon!