03-14 12:38:20 瀏覽次數: 256
Thirsty in Karachi
After two weeks in Karachi, I'm not sure whether to laugh or to cry. Either way, it involves water—or rather the lack of it.
In Western Europe or the US, you only have to turn on the tap and you'll see a jet of cold water, ready to drink, cook and bathe in, or wash the car. Turn on the tap in Karachi and you'll be lucky to fill a few buckets. Until 1947 the city was part of British India, whose engineers built and maintained a modest water supply network for the city's 500,000 inhabitants. Today, Karachi is home to around 12 million people. Half of them live in slum townships, with little or no water through the mains. Even the rich half usually have to wait days before anything tickles through their pipes. And the coloured liquid that finally emerges is usually too contaminated to drink.
Half usually have to wait days before anything tickles through their pipes. And the coloured liquid that finally emerges is usually too contaminated to drink.
According to the state-owned Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, the city needs more than 2,500 million litres of water each day. The board currently supplies 1,650 million litres of which nearly 40 per cent is lost from leaks—and theft. Leaks are dime a dozen to water utilities the world over, but theft?
Karachi's unlikely water pirates turn out to be ordinary families struggling to get adequate supplies of one of life's necessities. Stealing water takes many forms. The simplest is to buy a suction pump and get it attached to the water pipe that feeds your house from the mains. This should maximize your share of water every time the board switches on the supply. When the practice started 20 years ago, the pumps would be carefully hidden or disguised as garden ornaments. These days people hardly bother. The pumps are so widespread and water board inspectors so thin on the ground that when officials do confiscate a pump its owner simply buy a replacement.
Insisting that people obey the law won't work because most households have little alternative but to steal. For its part, the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board says it would dearly like to make life easier, but finds itself mired in debt because most residents either won't pay water charges or can't afford to the Urban Resource Centre, a Karachi-based think tank, of the 1.2 million known consumers of water only 750,000 are billed, of whom just 163,000 actually pay for their supplies. The board makes a perpetual loss, and there is no money to improve the system or even plug the leaks. Worse, the board increasingly relies on international loans from institutions such as the Asian Development Bank, which only makes its debt worse.
The joke is that the owners of the suction pumps end up with little—if any—extra water. Your house is in a line with 20 other households all tapping into one horizontal pipeline. All you can end up doing, given you have pumps of equal strength, is redistribute each other's entitlement and pay higher electricity bills into the bargain.
Back home in London, I'll remember not to complain about the water meter, or the hosepipe ban.
1．According to the passage, people in Karachi today suffer from a short supply of water because
A. the water supply network built in 1947 has stopped to function.
B. the city has become much larger than before.
C. old networks can not meet the need of the city's greatly-increased population.
D. other city is longer a part of British India.
2. Now people in Karachi do not hide or disguise the suction pumps they use to steal water because
A. the pumps are no longer wanted as garden ornaments.
B. water supply board officials no longer confiscate them.
C. it does not cost much money to buy a new one.
D. many households have them and there are very few inspectors around to try to find them.
3. Confronted with a severe shortage of water supply, the city's Water and Sewerage Board
A. tries to improve the water supply system with borrowed money.
B. is not making any effort to improve the situation.
C. urges the consumers to obey the law.
D. charges the consumers more for the water they use.
4.Which of the following is true of the owners of the suction pumps, if their neighbors have equally powerful pumps as they do?
A. They get some extra water.
B. They only pay more for electricity.
C. They share what they can get with their neighbors.
D. They replace their pumps with new ones.
5. Which of the following is true about the author when he is back home in London?
A. He misses the days he spent in Karachi.
B. He forgets the complaints he made in Karachi.
C. He is content with the water supply in London.
D. he complains about the water supply in London.