Hard times

 
September 23, 2020

We seem to be slowly slipping back to Dickensian times. Sui gas authorities have said that supply at certain times of the day to areas in Karachi and other towns in Sindh will be considerably...

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We seem to be slowly slipping back to Dickensian times. Sui gas authorities have said that supply at certain times of the day to areas in Karachi and other towns in Sindh will be considerably reduced during the winter. Already, many areas of Karachi have spent the past week without gas supply. Now reports say that, due to the high demand for gas in the winter, SSGC will not be able to provide this very basic utility. The same is true of K-Electric. While the electric supply company lacks the power needed to meet the requirements of a growing population, there is a huge ongoing debate whether it should continue to enjoy exclusive command over Karachi's power supply. The last meeting organized by Nepra over this issue saw numerous debates and arguments, with some charitable organizations and some individuals supporting K-Electric and its willingness to offer cheaper electricity to organizations or people that really needed it.

At the same time K-Electric has said that if there's any effort to combat its exclusivity in Karachi, or bring in other companies, it will challenge this matter and go in for arbitration. This would be bad news, given that other power companies would be warned away from Karachi if such a dispute were to break out. The situation appears to be an impossible one. While the KE dilemma is exclusive to Karachi, things are hardly better across other parts of the country. With power bills continuing to rise, people literally are receiving fewer and fewer amenities and fewer and fewer supplies that can keep them warm, heat homes, allow food to be cooked or meet the other needs of life. This is true with the north of the country as well where the winter is long and harsh. In the past people have protested as they suffer them. Unfortunately, there are at the moment very few solutions in sight. With authorities saying they can't even provide LNG and recommending that people use electric heaters, solar-powered geysers or other equipment, Pakistan's people are in for an even more crippling months ahead.

It is obviously not easy for people to switch to these other means of obtaining fuel. In many cases, the initial installation is expensive, and almost impossible to manage for many families. At any rate as people who pay their bills, there should be a right to receive basic utilities through the pipelines designed to bring them in. This is not happening. And it appears that in Karachi, at least, the situation is gradually becoming worse and worse as gas prepares for a total shutdown and people ready themselves for what is certain to be a difficult winter.



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