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July 24, 2019

Mild rainfall plunges city into darkness


July 24, 2019

Several areas of Karachi plunged into darkness in the late hours of Monday after a mild rainfall. Power outages throughout the city continued on Tuesday as well, which also affected the water supply to the city, according to the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB).

In a press statement, K-Electric (KE) said the monsoon showers and precipitation on late Monday night caused power interruptions in various parts of the city, including some areas of Defence, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Malir, Gulshan-e-Iqbal and North Karachi. The power utility claimed that power was swiftly restored in those areas.

Other localities where power supply was interrupted following the rain included Malir, Quaidabad, Samanabad, Sohrab Goth, New Karachi, Buffer Zone, Nazimabad, North Nazimabad, Orangi Town, Shah Faisal Colony, Korangi, Gulzar-e-Hijri, Saddar, PECHS, Surjani Town, Keamari, Liaquatabad and Bahadurabad.

According to residents of several areas, they were deprived of electricity for many hours, which disrupted their daily routines. Fatima, 10, could not attend school on Tuesday as she had no power at her home in Nazimabad. “It was before the rainfall that power breakdown occurred in our area which wasn’t restored until Tuesday morning,” said her mother Samin.

Traders also faced trouble due to the power breakdown. Fawad Amjad Ali, who runs a milk shop in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, said he incurred a huge loss after his milk turned sour due to the prolonged power outage in his area.

He demanded of the government to look into the matter. “It was just a mild rainfall and KE couldn’t provide uninterrupted power. What will happen in case of heavy rainfall?” he asked.

Many families chose to go for an outing to air-conditioned shopping malls as they could not bear the summer heat at their homes in the absence of electricity. Many people thronged food streets in the Boat Basin, Hussainabad, Sultanabad and Burnes Road areas.

A huge crowd was seen at Café Piyala near the Peoples Chowrangi in North Karachi on Monday night. “Visitors kept sitting at our tea shop till Tuesday morning as there was no power at their homes,” said Karim, who works there.

A few residents complained that the helpline number of the KE, 118, was not functional as there was only a recording that was being played which said the power breakdown was due to some local fault.

Various hospitals of the city, including the Civil Hospital, the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases and the National Institute of Child Health were also hit by the power breakdown. They received electricity after a few hours.

Meanwhile, the KWSB, in a statement, said that its major pumping stations of Dhebeji, Gharo, Pipi and North East Karachi were affected by low voltage after the rainfall on Monday, which continued till Tuesday morning.

The water board said its small pumping stations inside the city were also affected by the voltage issue. A few pumping stations also faced power interruption, the KWSB claimed.

“The city is facing 140 million gallon water shortage,” the water board said, asking the citizens to use water carefully for the next few days.

The KE explained that the power breakdown was also caused by the fact that some circuits of the National Transmission and Dispatch Company were already offline for maintenance at the time of rainfall, and the power utility managed the load while prioritising the system stability.

It added that due to the tripping of an extra high tension line, power also could not be supplied from the Sindh Nooriabad Power Company Limited (SNPC), an independent power producer while KE’s plants BQPS-I and II also tripped.

The power utility claimed that power supply from its plants was swiftly restored but the supply from the SNPC resumed by midday. It added that the supply of power from the NTDC was expected to fully resume after the completion of the maintenance activity by Tuesday evening after which the load management would be normalised.

However, residents of various areas complained that the power situation in their localities had not improved even on Tuesday night.

“The unprecedented humidity created a cascading effect on the power supply chain. Through investments of over USD 2bn across the generation, transmission and distribution systems over the last nine years, we have been able to strengthen our system, avoid complete breakdown of network and expediting the resolution time using technology such as Island Mode operations for generation plants,” a KE spokesperson said.

The power utility maintained that its teams remained fully alert following the rain spell and responded swiftly to restore power supply to the affected areas. Power supply to strategic

installations including key hospitals and the airport remained unaffected throughout, it added and regretted the inconvenience caused to its customers due to unforeseen circumstances.

The KE said its customers could reach out to its call centres through the helpline 118 or via text message on 8119. It added that queries could also be filed with the social media platforms of the power utility and the KE Live app.

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