Pakistan's largest city Karachi remains powerless

Karachi’s nightmare continues. The largest city in the country, dubbed the financial capital of Pakistan, continues to struggle with a longstanding and seemingly never-ending electricity crisis

Jun 27, 2020
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Karachi: Karachi’s nightmare continues. The largest city in the country, dubbed the financial capital of Pakistan, continues to struggle with a longstanding and seemingly never-ending electricity crisis.

Here, the temperature is soaring, load-shedding is at an all-time high and helpless citizens are left to crave for every drop of water. Here, citizens spend night staying up all night in the dark amid the sweltering heat.

Load-shedding has reportedly peaked to 15 hours a day in Karachi. Areas previously being subjected to seven to nine hours of load-shedding are now experiencing 12-hour to 15-hour long power outages, allegedly due to a rise in electricity theft in these localities.

Besides, neighbourhoods that had been exempted from load-shedding are now witnessing four to eight hours of loadshedding. And then there some localities that remain deprived of electricity for the entire night, reportedly due to technical faults.

Among them, areas worst hit by the crisis include Lyari, Korangi, Landhi, Surjani Town, Saeedabad, Ramswami Colony, Keamari, New Karachi, Gadap Town, Ahsanabad, Gulshan-e-Maymar, Baldia Town, Garden, Malir, Orangi and Town.

To add to the predicament, the suspension of electricity supply to pumping stations has given rise to a water shortage in the city. Moreover, an increase has been observed in complaints of tripped feeders, cable faults and other technical issues.

According to sources in K-Electric (KE), who asked not to be named, over 20,000 complaints pertaining to various issues are lodged daily at the power utility. They further claimed while the demand for electricity has surged in the city due to rising temperatures, the utility has made no arrangements to deal with the situation.

To add to it, residents of various areas have complained of inflated bills, maintaining that they were doubled for the month of June amid long hours of power outages.

Irate, they criticised KE for only focusing on generating revenue and not increasing its electricity production capacity.

Earlier, the metropolis would be supplied electricity by the government-run Karachi Electric Supply Company, worth trillions of rupees. However, the giant was sold to a private entity for peanuts and renamed KE – now considered a bane for the city.

Over the years, the private power utility has been able to do little to resolve the city’s electricity problems, and instead, has persistently failed to deliver and meet Karachi’s electricity needs of 3,400 megawatts.

While a KE spokesperson attributed the electricity crisis to the shortage of furnace oil and gas, the Sui Southern Gas Company claimed that is has, in fact, increased the gas supply to the utility from 190mmcfd to 240mmcfd, keeping in view the problems being faced by Karachiites.

As per the sources in KE, the utility has been collecting allowances and subsidies on the pretext of energy crises, which they claim have been created by it artificially for several years. The crisis may have been deliberately created for the same purpose this time around too, they opined.

They told The Express Tribune that the utility continued to rely on cheap sources for electricity generation despite having the resources to invest in better means of production and claimed that it was too influential to be held accountable by either the federal or the provincial government.

On the other hand, during a KE board meeting on Friday, the utility’s representatives maintained that the shortage of fuel was being experienced at the national level. The board, however, asked KE to expand its efforts for procuring fuel from suppliers and government entities.

Protests

Meanwhile, city-wide protests against load-shedding continued in Karachi for the third day.

Residents of Lyari held a demonstration in Meeran Naka and blocked a road. Similarly, protests were also staged in front of Society Office on Sharae Quaideen, near Ghaib Shah shrine in Keamari, outside KE’s office in Gizri and in several other areas.

Shouting slogans and lambasting KE, citizens demand the restoration of the electricity supply as per routine and complained that the duration of power was increasing with every passing day. They called for the government to take notice of the issue.

Protests in multiple areas resulted in traffic congestions and inconvenience for commuters as well.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2020.


https://tribune.com.pk/story/2251216/1-karachi-remains-powerless/

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