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Pakistan

Web Desk
June 25, 2020

K-Electric asked to account for unannounced power cuts, over-billing in Karachi

Pakistan

Web Desk
Thu, Jun 25, 2020

The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) on Wednesday noted with concern reports of persistent unannounced power outages in Karachi as well as the alleged overbilling of consumers.

According to a statement by Nepra, K-Electric has been directed to submit a detailed report on the matter.

Consumers have been directed to register their complaints at Nepra’s regional office in Karachi. They may alternatively register them on Nepra’s website.

Outages add to consumers' woes during lockdown

The frequent power cuts, which have been ongoing for some time, have risen in intensity in the past week and have made life miserable for Karachi residents, already enduring a trying summer with temperatures sometimes crossing 40 degrees Celsius.

Many citizens took to the roads today to protest against the prolonged outages.

According to Wasif Shakil, a resident of Korangi No. 6, unannounced power outages are a daily occurrence. “They have been especially horrible this past week,” he said, adding that his neighbourhood experiences blackouts that last as long as nine hours.

When asked about whether he had been overcharged, as has been a frequent complain by many consumers, he said that it was not the case for him, but has yet to see any relief in billing provided by the government.

"The utility should have waived late payment surcharges during the coronavirus lockdown,” Shakil said.

Khawaja Burhan, who lives in Gulistan-e-Jauhar Block 18, said his area also experiences power outages daily between 3pm and 4pm and sometimes also unexpectedly later in the night, such as between 11pm and 12am.

“I had to get my PC repaired due to the repeated power cuts which caused it to malfunction. I suffered heavy work losses as a result, ultimately affecting my mental wellbeing,” said Burhan.

A resident of Gulshan-e-Iqbal Block 13 also had similar woes. He reported erratic power cuts in the past week, at least twice daily, sometimes between 11am and 12pm, sometimes between 3pm and 4pm and on other occasions between 4:30pm and 5:30pm.

Meanwhile, over at Dhoraji Colony, the situation is no different.

"We experience almost two hours of load-shedding every day," says a resident of C.P. Berar Society near Dhoraji Colony. "With no alternative source of power, such as a generator or a UPS, it becomes a hellish atmosphere to live in, with a lack of breeze and rising temperatures. It also exacerbates physical and mental health issues as well as the productivity of those working from home during the ongoing lockdown."

Among other areas to witness unannounced power cuts were various other neighbourhoods of Korangi and Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Liaquatabad, North Karachi, Kharadar, F B Area, Khadda Market, Lyari, and Orangi Town.

Residents found it increasingly difficult to stay indoors even as a lockdown was enforced in many parts due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Some areas, such as Liaquatabad C1, reported power restoration after an 18-hour long outage, only to be disrupted against close to 11pm.

Many believe KE is cutting off power “under the pretext of technical faults”.

KE responds

In response to citizens’ complaints, KE issued a statement to explain the cause behind the frequent outages.

It claimed that a shortage in supply of furnace oil and gas had led to the power cuts.

According to a KE spokesperson, the supply of fuel in line with the demand is the responsibility of “relevant institutions”.

Furthermore, according to the power distributor, loadshedding is taking place in areas where nonpayment of dues had been identified.

It is important to note that when a lockdown was imposed in Karachi towards the end of March, the city witnessed little to no power cuts till May 9. As soon as the lockdown was eased, power outages began to occur and have since grown in frequency and duration.

SSGC dismisses claims of gas shortage

The Sui Southern Gas Company, however, dismissed claims there had been a shortfall in supply of gas to KE.

"There has been no reduction in supply of gas to K-Electric," said an SSGC spokesperson.

"We would supply 190 million cubic feet (MMcf) previously and are now supplying 242 MMcf of gas," he said.

The spokesperson further said that a request for additional gas to be supplied for 15 days had also been granted.