LAHORE: A rare pledge has been made by the Board of Directors of the Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco) and the newly-inducted staff of the power utility for eliminating corruption.
Many startling revelations were also made about malpractices by Lesco staff during the ceremony, which was an initiative of the BoDs, held the other day at a local hotel. Dr Musadik Malik, Lesco BoDs Chairman, Qaiser Zaman, CEO Lesco and other high-ups were present on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Musadik threw light on the importance of professionalism and honest practices. Everyone needs to introspect what he has done so far and what he should plan for the future, he said, and added what your life is really about is a question which should haunt all of us. We should also not lose hope and always prefer truth in our lives, he said. Without truth, fantasy can be built but not reality, he said and added the truth in Lesco is the existence of very high losses.
Elaborating on the power losses, he said that 12 or 13 per cent of losses do not depict the true picture of the company. If we exclude industrial consumer data, the losses for domestic category jumped to 20-22 per cent while losses for agricultural tubewells swelled to 27 per cent. So if we really want to make Lesco a vibrant company, you need to first embrace this truth of high losses. It is the resolve of the board members to present before you the real problems affecting productivity of the company and try to get it resolved, he said.
The second reality, the BoDs chairman said, is wrong billing being done by Lesco. There are many wrongdoings in Lesco and it is a fact that many customers are being under-billed and over-billed. We have shared this challenge with the management of the company repeatedly as we wanted to overcome this menace. He admitted that overbilling created immense problems for the desperate but hapless consumers and they had been left with no option but to take extreme steps of venting their anger against Lesco by holding protests.
Despite all these problems, Musadik said he still had hope for resolving these chronic issues. He hoped that the present management and especially the newly inducted officers would fulfill their responsibilities in this regard.
He continued to say that Lesco overstated its profits by Rs 9 billion and Rs 4 billion in the last two consecutive years, saying that this practice is not an appropriate one. We are trying hard to overcome such financial lapses as present BoDs would not allow any malpractice, he vowed. If there is a loss, we will show it irrespective of the consequences as if we stop stating the truth than hope will start fading.
He invited the newly inducted Sub Divisional Officers (SDOs) of Lesco to come forward and take oath for resisting corruption in the power utility. “I want to give you the opportunity to come voluntarily on stage and say a few words against corruption and share suggestions for improving the working of the company”. He made it clear that if anyone doesn’t want to say anything, it would not mean that he is corrupt and does not want corruption in Lesco.
“I on behalf of the board give you an assurance that we would never indulge in corrupt practices nor do we allow anyone to do the same,” Malik said, asking the gathering to take the same oath voluntarily.
While taking oath, Muhammad Mumtaz, SDO Model Colony Okara, vowed to eliminate corruption from Lesco. He made the startling revelation that his Line Superintendent one day came to his office and after locking the door from inside offered him Rs 10,000 as cash, saying it is his ‘due share’. He added the LS had said he would give Rs 15,000 to the XEN of the area. “I asked him how much he would take. He said whatever else he might be able to collect he would take. I refused to take the bribe and also did not allow him to give it to the XEN or keep it with him”. He also presented suggestions that similar meetings with the management should be held, saying the previous higher management used to keep contacts with his subordinate for undertaking their desired tasks.
Munir Afzal, who joined Lesco a couple of months back, while taking oath affirmed that he had not done any corruption so far and would not do it in future. He added today’s meeting was an exception and a good experience for him. While seeing the affairs of the company, he added, we were demoralized to the extent that we could not succeed in improving the working of the company. He said if the company managed to put photos of meter-reading on every consumer bill, it would lead to an end to the problem of overbilling. He admitted that in his area of Chunian, many people are involved in power theft. He lamented that there was no particular support from the management for controlling theft.
Asif Ali, SDO Mandi Ahmadabad Okara also took the same oath. He said he had been trained as part of assuming his present charge to refrain from corrupt practices. He complained about the lukewarm support of the police in taking action against power theft.
Tahir Sattar, Assistant Manager Qilla Sattar, while taking oath for eliminating corruption from the power utility, said such interaction with high ups are a real morale booster for the employees and hence should be held frequently.
Ishfaq Ahmad, SDO of Lesco, said he wanted a maintenance workshop at every division level so that repair of equipment could be done speedily. He also took an oath not to be involved in corruption nor allowing anyone to do the same in Lesco. Saad Saleem, AMO, Faisal Sub Division, also took oath with enthusiasm and sought support of the management.
Mujtaba Rizvi, SDO Ichhra, was relatively blunt and said he could not stop this menace as in the last few months of experience, he felt it was quite impossible to stop the corrupt practices of the staff. Fifty per cent corruption in Lesco was due to the lower staff, unions etc. while the higher management was responsible for the remaining 50 per cent embezzlement, he observed.
Hafiz Zarar Umar, SDO Nishtar Colony also eagerly took oath against corruption. He said vacancies of labour in each sub division should be filled for the smooth carrying out of activities. Jamshed Khurshid, SDO GT Road while taking oath said that there are certain challenges related to working in the company however, his spirit is even higher to deal with such situations. Giving suggestions, he said, Lesco should form a theft control taskforce.
Azeem Javed, SDO Tajpura Cantt also took oath against corrupt practices. He was apprehensive about the slow process of getting transformers repaired, saying it could adversely affect his working. Shahid Kamran, SDO Amer Sidhu, also voluntarily took oath against corruption. He gave the suggestion of gauging load of each transformer in order to better detect theft in the respective area.
Amir Aziz, SDO Hujra Town while taking oath asked for security to the staff, especially during operation against power theft. He asked the top management to provide transportation to each SDO. Nauman Qadi, SDO People Colony Okara, said he faced problems in assessing losses in his respective area as he failed to understand past practices of lower power losses. Such low losses are incomprehensible for him and he really doubts the data, he said and added a new formula should be evolved to assess real figures of losses.
Aqib Shafi, SDO Mustafabad said he witnessed poor communication channels within the company, terming it very slow and a factor behind the delay in executing various tasks. He suggested that paperless communication should be promoted with a view to taking swift decisions. Musaf Jan, SDO Altaf Colony Cantt, said there is no tangible improvement despite having human material and financial resources. He admitted that losses and over billing were very much there.
Ahson Sadaqat, SDO Islampure also willingly took oath against corrupt practices. He stressed the need for calculating losses in real terms. He disclosed that losses in his sub division were minus eleven per cent last month which is far below average. However, while smiling he conceded that he could not understand how losses were reduced to such extent. He expressed the fear that losses would increase if a more pragmatic approach was employed for assessing it. Consequently, he said, he might face the wrath of the management if real losses tend to increase.
Muhammad Waqas, SDO Fatehgarh, also took oath against corruption and regretted the vacancies of meter reading, saying it is hindering proper work. He said due to such an uphill task, he faced the wrath of the high-ups and being a contract employee, he also faced insecurity of his job.
Board members including Abne Hasan, Salman Akhtar, Farooq Iftikhar and Dr Musadik Malik also took oath, saying they have not been involved in corruption and would also not allow anyone to do the same. Dr Malik said that he would not indulge in any corrupt practice and would readily prefer to leave his post instead. At the end, Salman Akhtar gave a presentation about the real time data of loadshedding of all Lesco areas, which would be available online in the next few days. He said that everyone could see from this website that loadshedding is being done uniformly or otherwise.
Addressing the engineers, Lesco Chief Executive Officer Qaiser Zaman said staff will have to serve the company from now onwards as the company has high hopes from them. He was of the view that energy is the basic need of the country and we need to handle it efficiently. Addressing the newly inducted staff, the CEO advised them to make a difference while playing their role effectively in order to streamline the energy sector, which is the most crucial part of the economy.
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