Friday, December 26, 2008

Karachi tormented by new wave of outages

By Shamim-ur-Rahman

KARACHI, Dec 25: Frequent power outages and fluctuations over the past week have left Karachiites badmouthing the Karachi Electricity Supply Company.

On Thursday the total shortfall oscillated between 400 and 500 MW due to a lack of sufficient generation by Bin Qasim and KTPS.

The erratic power supply notwithstanding, subscribers are being asked to shell out more money through bills at revised rates. More than eight hours of load-shedding has crippled business in the metropolis.

Mahmood Hamid of the All Pakistan Organisation of Small Traders and Industries urged the government to act soon to improve the power supply.

Whereas the power outage in the city was crippling the economy, it was also going against the government because of its decision to hand over the management to Abraj Group, which is reluctant to bear the cost of augmenting the network.

On the contrary, it is exerting pressure on the government to get more concessions. Mahmood Hamid alleged that the new KESC management had the patronage of some very influential persons in the government and that was why it did not bother about public outrage.

Recently Sindh Governor Ishratul Ebad Khan had directed the KESC management to take urgent steps for ensuring uninterrupted power supply.

The management team, led by the utility’s Chief Executive Naveed Ismail, had assured him of corrective measures, but the situation has worsened instead.

The governor had also advised the KESC to upgrade its system generation and transmission systems.

Pepco is supplying over 600 MW of electricity to KESC every day despite dispute over outstanding dues.

The new management had promised, soon after taking over on Sept 15, to invest in infrastructure, besides taking full supplies from the IPPs supplying power to the KESC.

The new owners had said that “from now onwards the planned load management should be reduced to only 2-3 hours a day and that the people would be kept informed about unplanned closures, if any”.

The utility has not been able to fully operate the rental power plant nor has it invested in upgrading the 11 KV distribution systems. It has so far not turned out to be any different from the Aljomaih Group, its predecessor, in being strong on promises, weak on action.(Dawn)