There is no respite from the prolonged power outages faced by the people of Karachi. The city’s sole power distributor, K-Electric, has increased the number of load shedding hours and the situation has worsened.
A public hearing by the power regulator NEPRA ended in chaos and was inconclusive as people and civil society protested over the dismal performance of the company. K-Electric enjoys an absolute monopoly over power distribution in Karachi and citizens do have a choice. This leads to various problems such as overbilling and poor customer service.
The business community is also disappointed and wanted the exclusive rights of K-Electric to be taken away. During the public hearing, they recommended setting up a new company which will be financed by them but the proposal was shunned.
K-Electric has exclusive distribution rights in Karachi till 2023. The company has threatened to move the international court if the rights are taken away. The company has written a letter to the prime ministers and several ministers warning from taking any such decision. The government is unable to take any concrete action against the company and hold it accountable.
K-Electric is the only privatised power distribution company in the country. Under its license agreement, it was supposed to invest in the power networks and improve its efficiency. The company made efforts to end losses and became a profit-making company but failed to invest in the power distribution which leads to frequent power outages.
The recent rainfall showed the abysmal performance as many parts of the city were without electricity for days. The patience of the citizens has run out and they want an immediate end to the crisis. There is no light at the end of the tunnel and it would take a couple of years or more before there is any relief.
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