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Karachi loadshedding woes

Nazia Ali


The writer is a social activist.

Residents of Karachi are already suffering from an economic crisis and coronavirus pandemic as scorching temperatures are making lives miserable. Apart from that, they endure hours of unannounced loadshedding by K-Electric that makes no qualms in worsening the situation.
The ‘City of Lights’ has been plunged into darkness while residents still have to face overbilling and additional charges. K-Electric has blamed the ongoing crisis on the shortage of furnace oil, while the SSGC said it has increased supply to the power utility from 190 MMCFD to 240 MMCFD. The additional 50 MMCFD has been provided due to the increased load management.
K-Electric has blamed shortage of furnace oil and power theft as an excuse to continue with excessive load shedding, while many areas have facing outages due to ‘technical faults’. This can also lead to a potential water crisis in the city. As the mercury strikes 40°C in the metropolis, residents are facing power outages for up to nine hours, affecting their health and livelihoods in the extreme summers.
Residents are going through this ordeal despite no increase in consumption. Many claimed to reduce the use of air-conditioners but still receive hefty bills. Even political bigwigs have not been spared from the load shedding. The Sindh Assembly also faced a power outage during an address by minister Ismail Rahu, causing embarrassment among members of the provincial assembly.
NEPRA has issued a notice to K-Electric over the loadshedding and sought an explanation. There have been such notices issued and reports submitted but we have never seen any concrete action. The power utility has even taken the lives of citizens but has never been penalized. Many have died from heatstroke or electrocution from falling wires during downpours but have never been provided justice.
K-Electric issued a statement that power outages have increased due to hot and humid temperatures and the demand has exceeded 3,450MW. It can be easily deciphered that the power utility continues to operate with impunity while the lives of residents are at stake.
Last year, monsoon rains lashed Karachi and 33 people lost their lives in various rain-related incidents and electrocutions while even sacrificial animals were killed. Around seven cases were lodged against power utility but they have not been heard till date. The deadly heatstroke in 2015 is still vivid in our minds when we couldn’t step outside and suffer mercilessly.
When Chief Minister Sindh instructed the power companies to not collect bills due to lockdown situation, they flatly refused and even did allow payments in installments. One wonders how long people of Karachi will face this injustice. There is no other solution except protesting for our rights.
Businesses have been affected due to reduced working hours amid lockdown restriction and will be unable to survive. Will the rulers or the masses hold K-Electric responsible? We need to unite and demand our rights. We need answers from the officials whether they are concerned about the problems of Karachi and want to bring any change to end the ordeal.
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