LAHORE: Long spells of electricity outage triggered on Saturday loud protests in several cities in Punjab as power shortfall for the common man touched a staggering 70 per cent.
According to officials of the Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco), the urban feeders in the country saw about 16 hours of loadshedding, with each outage lasting four to five hours.
The rural feeders saw a loadshedding of about 20 hours.
“If the load for the VVIPs, hospitals, defence establishments and industrial units, which exceeds 2,000MW, is taken out of the equation there is virtually no electricity in the country,” an official of the company said.
With total power generation declining to less than 7,500MW even during peak hours, the company was facing a deficit of about 7,000MW by Saturday evening. If the load for the VVIPs and industrial units, etc, was deducted, the country had less than 5,000MW against a total computed demand of 14,500MW. In Lahore, traders mounted two demonstrations against the outages --- one on The Mall and the other in Urdu Bazaar. They raised slogans against the authorities and burnt used tyres to express their anger over the situation.
FAISALABAD: People of various localities along the Jhang Road forced shopkeepers to pull down their shutters, pelted at least two petrol pumps with stones and damaged some public vehicles during a vociferous protest. They blocked traffic on the busy road for several hours.
GUJRANWALA: Factory workers and members of civil society blocked the Grand Trunk Road by setting used tyres afire. Police had to arrest as many as 50 demonstrators to break up the protest.
The protesters who had to endure outages of 18-20 hours blocked the traffic for several hours and smashed windows and windscreens of vehicles. When the police reached there, the protesters began pelting them with rocks.
Policemen had to resort to baton-charge, teargas shelling and firing in the air. However, the demonstrators refused to disperse, saying they were doing without electricity since the morning.
The police had to arrest dozens of people.
SIALKOT: Industrialists and businessmen in the city announced that they would soon launch a ‘civil disobedience campaign’ to highlight their plight. A strike would be observed on Tuesday, they said.
President of the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry Naeem Anwar Qureshi told a press conference that only about 150MW of uninterrupted electricity was needed to save the local industrial units from ruin.
Meanwhile, hundreds of sacked factory workers and labourers held a demonstration near Uggoki in protest against the outages.
The protest threw the traffic on the main Sialkot-Sambrial road out of gear for several hours.
The demonstrators said that owners of industrial units were laying off workers in large numbers because it was getting extremely difficult to run businesses in the existing circumstances.
They said the outages had pushed their families to the brink of starvation.
Smaller demonstrations were also reported from Kasur.