Villagers led by MPA block Ring Road to protest power cuts

By Bureau report
June 17, 2024
A general view of the high voltage lines. — AFP/File

PESHAWAR: Hundreds of people led by a Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) on Sunday protested hours-long power breakdowns in almost all the suburban and rural areas of the provincial capital.

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The locals also protested suspension of natural gas to domestic consumers in many areas of Peshawar. On Sunday, a large number of protesters led by MPA Fazal Ilahi blocked the main Ring Road against the hours-long loadshedding in different villages on both sides of the Ring Road and Kohat Road.

They chanted slogans against the Wapda authorities for not honouring its promises and provoking people through loadshedding for more hours than the announced schedule. The power breakdowns increase with the start of the summer when people need more electricity to run fans, air-coolers and air-conditioners to beat the heat. A number of protests are held in every district of the country especially in villages where power remains suspended for 12 to 20 hours.

The same is the situation of supply of gas to many towns. The gas is supplied to domestic consumers during the morning, noon and evening for a couple of hours to cook the meals. Many areas face the issue of low pressure of gas and majority of the people have to use the LPG cylinders to cook food.

The protesters alleged that mostly staff members of Pesco were involved in power theft. They said consumers had to pay the price in the form of heavy bills as well as face 12 to 21 hours of power shutdown in rural areas.

The protesters said the power supply remained suspended in villages on both sides of Kohat Road while thieves had stolen power cables from the poles as they knew the lines did not carry current.

The protesters led by MPA Fazal Ilahi had stormed the Rahman Baba grid station last month.Pesco executive engineer had later filed an application with the Peshawar Police that the MPA along with around 400 to 500 people stormed the Hazarkhwani grid station and activated six feeders for several hours, causing 70,000 units loss worth Rs3.6 million to the exchequer.

Last month, Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur had warned Pesco and the federal government to reduce the duration of electricity loadshedding or he will take control of the system and offices.

In the last few years, a number of offices and grid stations were stormed by the protesters due to long breakdowns. The same happens every summer while the government and authorities are yet to find a solution to the issue. Pesco authorities complain that the line losses run into millions in many areas and they had no option but to increase the duration of power cuts to minimize the losses.

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