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July 8, 2020

Karachi cries for mercy after enduring long hours without electricity

July 8, 2020

Following the rainfall on Monday that marked the beginning of this year’s monsoon season, Karachi’s sole electricity provider, K-Electric (KE), failed to restore power to some areas of the city for 24 long hours.

In one of the city’s most affluent areas, the Defence Housing Authority’s (DHA) Phase-VIII, electricity could not be restored until 6pm on Tuesday. The situation was more or less similar in the DHA’s Phase-VII, Phase-VI and Phase-V, where power could not be restored 10 to 12 hours after the rainfall.

DHA Phase-VIII residents ran out of petrol on Monday evening. One of them, Sheharyar Ali, told The News how their generator’s petrol tank emptied at around 8pm and all the filling stations in the city were already closed. “I have elderly people in my home. How can they endure this hot weather?”

He explained how, in the middle of the night, they had to go all the way to the Super Highway, where a sole petrol pump was open, but there was a long queue. “The workers there weren’t willing to fill our cans with petrol,” he pointed out. But after a long argument, he said, they agreed to give them only Rs500 worth of petrol.

Ali pointed out that the electricity cables in DHA Phase-VIII are already underground. “We can’t figure out what went wrong, why power wasn’t restored. There was only one response to the power failure, that their [KE’s] teams are on it.”

Another resident of the area told The News how they had no petrol at all at their home. “There was a power breakdown after the first drop of rain. We thought it’d be resumed in a while,” said the resident.

They said they had not stocked up on petrol because they faced lesser load-shedding in DHA Phase-VIII, adding that when power could not be restored by 9pm or so, they grew worried, but could not do anything about it since all the filling stations were closed.

The situation was more or less similar in other parts of the city. In Gulshan-e-Iqbal Block 10-A, Railway Society, electricity was restored at 8am on Tuesday. “But it was disconnected again at 10:30am, then restored at 12pm before being disconnected once more at 2:30pm,” said a resident, adding that they are subjected to eight to 12 hours of load-shedding on an almost daily basis.

In PECHS Block-6 and Block-7, the power breakdown occurred at 2pm on Monday and, according to a resident named Zain Awan, electricity was restored by 10pm. In the areas adjoining the Sindhi Muslim Society, however, power could not be restored until 24 hours after Monday’s rainfall. “No UPS or generator can work for 24 hours straight,” said Shaista Farukh. “There are COVID-19 patients in the area. The power utility should show some mercy.”

‘Power restored’

As a result of rains in the city, KE has mobilised its response teams for swift restoration of the power supply. Meanwhile, the utility’s senior management, led by its CEO, directly supervised the rain-related maintenance and rehabilitation work, said a press release issued on Tuesday.

The statement said that due to KE’s continuous efforts, the power supply was timely restored in affected areas in Malir, Gulshan-e-Maymar, Saudabad, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Orangi Town, Surjani Town, Federal B Area, Saddar and Bahadurabad Society. The company said it also restored power in the North Nazimabad, Garden, Landhi, Defence, Clifton and Shah Faisal Town areas.

According to the KE spokesperson, teams of the power utility faced hurdles in the restoration process due to fallen trees and other objects as well as standing rainwater around the KE infrastructure.

However, the statement mentioned nothing about why electricity could not be restored in DHA Phase-VIII for 24 hours, even though the neighbourhood already has their infrastructure underground.

To ensure public safety, said KE, the electricity supply was also temporarily suspended in some of the low-lying areas in the city where water was reported to have accumulated. The company claimed to have taken significant steps to upgrade its power supply system.

According to the spokesperson, “In addition to earthing and grounding, geo-tagging of HT [high-tension] and LT [low-tension] poles has been ensured. The safety of human lives remains the topmost priority of the organisation. This cannot be achieved, however, without timely action from the relevant government institutions.

“K-Electric has, therefore, requested the government departments dealing with the rain emergency to ensure immediate drainage of standing rain-water around power installations. In addition, the power utility urges the citizens to maintain a safe distance from broken wires, poles and other power infrastructure during and after the rain.

“Also, public should refrain from illegal and unsafe ways to steal electricity. Also, illegal hooks, TV and cable wires around KE infrastructure and operating water motors during rains can prove to be dangerous.”

The KE spokesperson further said that mobile teams of the company remained in the field to address consumer complaints. The power utility can be reached for complaints through its call centre (118), via SMS (8119) or on social media platforms.