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September 26, 2020

Helpless Karachiites beg for mercy amid shortage of gas, water and electricity


September 26, 2020

The sweltering heat combined with frequent load-shedding has been making the people of Karachi suffer for the past seven days, as the K-Electric (KE) and the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) carry on with their blame game to ward off criticism.

Power outages have also exacerbated the problem of water shortage in the city. Residents who get water supply in lines for a limited time say they fail to fill their tanks as water machines at homes are of no good without electricity.

The problem of frequent power cuts, which initially started Karachi’s slum and underdeveloped areas, has now engulfed the whole city, including upscale localities, such as the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) and PECHS.

A resident of PECHS, Shujaat shared with The News how they suffer prolonged load-shedding that has created water scarcity in their area. “We hardly get water through water lines. When water comes in the lines, there’s a power outage,” he said adding that they were facing

load-shedding of over 10 hours a day.

Similarly, a resident of North Karachi, Waqas Sarwar shared that they did not have power all night. “I generally reach my home around 1am, and since then until the morning we face intermittent power failures,” he said adding that it was impossible for them to sleep in such hot weather without electricity.

Meanwhile, residents of areas, such as Nazimabad, North Nazimabad, New Karachi, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Shah Faisal Colony and Martin Quarters, have also been facing frequent power outages that last for more than 10 hours.

Ordeal for students

School going children are also suffering sleepless nights and then they have to wake up early to attend school or take online classes.

Sarosh, a student at a private school, who lives in Nazimabad, has online classes daily from 8am to 1pm. Her mother is also working from home these days so she could help her daughter take online classes.

“I am arranging money to buy a generator or UPS as my daughter is losing classes on a daily basis due to power cuts,” her mother said adding that they faced an hour-long power outage after every hour during the day on a daily basis.

“It simply gets impossible for my daughter to take online classed during a power outage,” she lamented.

Elderly patients in homes are also facing a lot of trouble due to load-shedding. Talking to The News, a resident of an apartment in Gulistan-e-Jauhar near Perfume Chowk, Shamim Bano said her mother was severely ill. She said power cuts and outages added to the miseries of her mother and elderly patients like her.

Over 12 hours

Some citizens complained of braving power crisis for over 12 hours a day. In Gulistan-e-Jauhar’s Block 12, there was no power from 4am to 8m on Thursday. “It was an unannounced power outage. We were told that there was some sort of maintenance,” said a resident, Adeel Qureshi.

In the wee hours of Thursday, many areas of the city, including the DHA, Clifton, Korangi, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, PECHS, North Karachi, New Karachi, Nazimabad, North Nazimabad and Martin Quarters, plunged into darkness. “If there’s a power crisis, the load management could be done during the day, so that we could at least sleep in peace,” said a resident of North Karachi, Hasban Rizvi.

KE statement

According to a statement released by the KE, the power utility continues to be challenged by low gas pressure from the SSGC.

“While the quantity of the required gas remains available, decreased pressure leads to a decline of 250MW to 300MW in electricity supply at a time when demand is high.” Because of low gas pressure, the KE said its power plants at Korangi and SITE were not able to operate at their optimum capacity despite remaining fully available.

To resolve this issue, the power utility said it had requested the purchase of re-liquefied natural gas (RLNG) which, if made available at required gas pressure, could meet short term requirements. At the same time, the power utility has also requested the federal government to increase the supply from the National Grid to 800MW from existing NKI and Jamshoro interconnections.

The KE said its furnace-oil fired power plants were fully functional at this time. The power utility has expressed concerns that the continued curtailment of gas pressure may lead to socio-economic challenges due to increase in load-shedding hours across all consumer segments, including industrial zones.

“At the same time, the power utility is grateful to the federal ministry and other stakeholders

for their support during this difficult time.”

SSGC statement

The SSGC, in its press statement, has stressed that there is no gas load-shedding in its franchise areas.

“Instead a low-pressure situation has been created due to diminishing gas supplies from different gas fields owned by E&P companies. Currently, the SSGC faces a shortfall of 150 mmcfd gas as a result of which the company’s line pack system has been affected. The SSGC is, therefore, following the government’s gas load management plan whereby the company is giving first preference in the supply of gas to the domestic sector.”

It said the Sinjhoro and Zarghun gas fields were undergoing annual turnaround right now and a number of other gas fields too were injecting reduced gas into the SSGC’s system. “Hence, there are complaints of low gas pressure from the customers. Despite the grave situation, the SSGC continues to provide KE with 190 to 200 mmcfd gas so that the people of Karachi do not face power outages for long.”