Saturday August 20, 2022

KE blames fuel shortage as citizens suffer longer power cuts

A KE spokesperson said that different areas of Karachi will witness two hours of loadshedding, which is in addition to the routine power outages

April 29, 2022

Earlier this week it was a shortfall of 300 megawatts from the national grid; this time, it is fuel shortage as the reason for extending the hours of loadshedding by K-Electric (KE) in Karachi.

The people of Karachi were left baffled on Thursday as the sole power supplier to Karachi, the KE, announced a new schedule for loadshedding ahead of the Eid-ul-Fitr in specific areas of the city already affected by extended periods of power outages.

The KE spokesperson said that according to the new schedule, different areas of the city will witness two hours of loadshedding, which is in addition to the routine power outages.

Areas such as North Karachi, Surjani Town, Shadman Town, Buffer Zone, Nazimabad, North Nazimabad, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Lyari, Saddar, Malir, Landhi, Korangi, Defense Housing Authority, Clifton, Boat Basin, Ibrahim Hyderi, II Chundrigar Road and Shah Faisal Town are suffering a severe power crisis.

Earlier this week, the KE said that there was a shortfall of 300 megawatts from the national grid. The National Transmission & Despatch Company (NTDC), on the other hand, stated in a statement that there was no shortfall in the power supply to the KE.

The KE spokesperson said in a press statement on Thursday that the power utility’s production capacity was being affected due to a shortage of fuel. “To manage the situation, two hours of load management are being undertaken. The situation is expected to improve following a decrease in commercial activity during the Eid,” the spokesperson said.

Traders irked

With intermittent power outages, the traders of the city suffer as the Eid shopping is at its peak. Speaking to The News, All Karachi Tajir Ittehad chairman Atiq Mir said that the KE resorts to power outages during the peak hours of Eid shopping that is after Iftar. “Due to the extreme warm weather, people head out for shopping after Iftar and it is exactly the time when loadshedding takes place,” he pointed out.

The chairman of the trader’s alliance said that due to intermittent power failures, the traders are suffering heavy economic losses, and from markets where loadshedding takes place, shoppers move to those markets which have power.

The old city area, parts of Tariq Road, Liaquatabad, Kareamabad Market, Hyderi are markets, he said, which are experiencing the most loadshedding in the city.

A cloth trader from Saddar’s Zainab Market, Muhammad Umair, shared how his business is badly affected due to power outages. “We need to keep our sewing machines running round the clock during the last few days of Ramazan. With such massive loadshedding in the market, how can we continue with our business?” he said, adding that people generally have to get their readymade clothes altered and they cannot wait for hours for power to resume in the market.

Most of the traders, he said, have installed generators, due to which their fuel cost has also increased drastically. “It is after two years of the pandemic, that we are operating our businesses in full swing, but the loadshedding is causing huge monetary losses to us,” he lamented.

Citizens suffer

The citizens, on the other hand, suffer the most due to power outages, during Sehri and Iftar. A resident of Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Block 12, Muhammad Ikram, shared how power outages have increased drastically in last one week.

“After every one-hour there’s a power breakdown of at least two hours,” he said. “We live in a load-shedding free zone. Imagine the situation in areas which are not given this status by the KE.”

There are a total 54 feeders in District Korangi, out of which 16 have been exempted from loadshedding. Zaman Town, Sector 33/C, 33/D, Sector 36/C, J Area, P Area, Q Area, Sector 5-B, L Area, 33/E, Sector 34/2 and Labour Colony are the areas where the KE installed aerial bundle last year on PMTs in a bid to turn unplanned settlements across Karachi loadshedding-free zones. All such areas are also now experiencing massive loadshedding.

A resident of Zaman Town, Saba Naz, shared how they are bracing 10 to 15 hours and on some days 18 hours of loadshedding. “Our lives have become miserable,” she said, adding that in such a hot weather such a prolonged duration of loadshedding affects their lives.

“We cannot work, study and sleep. The KE needs to reduce the number of hours of loadshedding in the area,” she stressed.

‘End KE’s monopoly’

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Karachi chief Engr Hafiz Naeemur Rehman demanded of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority during a hearing of the authority on Thursday over issues pertaining to the KE to end the private company’s monopoly in the power distribution sector of Karachi.

The KE was offering excessively expensive electricity to its customers, he said as he took part in the hearing through a video link.

Rehman presented the case of Karachi and Karachiites before the power regulatory authority, saying the KE had been irking the consumers through prolonged loadshedding even at the time of Sehri and Iftar.

Despite multiple announcements, the Bin Qasim power generation plant had not yet become fully functional, he said, adding that the KE had not increased power generation capacity as per the agreement signed between the state and the KE administration.

He said that the increase in the KE tariff despite its poor performance and violation of agreements was a matter of grave concern for the Karachiites. On the occasion, he demanded of Nepra to revoke the licence of the power company and arrange a forensic audit of the company's accounts.

The JI leader also asked Nepra if it had any mechanism to gage the power generation by the KE. He also asked if the power utility’s agreement was going to expire in 2023, and if the regulatory authority was approaching other distribution companies.

Rehman also questioned the KE's policy of collective punishment in case of low recovery and dubbed it continuation of imperial policies and an open violation of human rights. The Nepra chairman appreciated the JI leader over valuable comments and announced he would dispatch a legal team to Karachi after the Eid-ul-Fitr.