Power woes

 
July 01, 2020

Karachi is once again in the grip of long and unannounced power outages across the city. Though the practice has become a routine matter, especially in summer months, this time around it seems even...

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Karachi is once again in the grip of long and unannounced power outages across the city. Though the practice has become a routine matter, especially in summer months, this time around it seems even more senseless – possibly also because of the fact that entire households are stuck at home braving the times. And, as more and more people are getting infected with Covid-19, there is an increased need for uninterrupted power supply. Both the infected people and their relatives find it much more difficult to take care of the patient and at the same time endure long power failures, either because of planned load-shedding or due to technical faults. As Karachi is mostly a pretty congested city with millions of apartments and flats in close proximity, the heat becomes unbearable and toxic fumes emanating from generators add to the carbon content in the atmosphere, making it highly injurious to health. This tendency of the K-Electric is also unjustifiable because most businesses and industries are not consuming as much electricity as they normally would have.

The Covid-19 pandemic has reduced the commercial and industrial consumption of electricity substantially so there is no justification at all for this unbearable load-shedding that K-Electric had unleashed on the people of this city. One reason that K-Electric often uses for this practice is the shortage of furnace oil. If the supply of furnace oil is inconsistent and falls short of the demand, who is to blame for this? Where should the people go in their state of misery? Since K-Electric is the sole power distributor to Karachi it must indeed be held accountable for the miseries of the people of Karachi. There are also repeated technical faults at its Bin Qasim Station that are used as a pretext to power outages.

In some areas the load-shedding lasts for as long as 12 hours without respite. Both the federal and Sindh governments must take serious notice of this situation and some redress must be given to the residents of Karachi immediately. The worst part of this story is that K-Electric is responsible for all three key stages of power utility from generation and transmission to distribution. That means in no way can K-Electric absolve itself of its responsibility to produce and deliver energy to consumers. That is one reason the erstwhile KESC should have never been privatized. Power is a basic necessity and in countries such as Pakistan it should not be privately owned. With its thousands of employees, the company needs to cater to the electricity needs of millions of consumers for both domestic and industrial uses. It is about time the federal and Sindh governments set aside their differences and sat together to sort out this perennial problem of Karachi which is not only the largest megacity of the country but also its business and economic hub.



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