Heatwave and blackouts electrify generator sales

Updated May 31, 2017

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A young man puts oil in a power generator as another looks on.  — White Star.
A young man puts oil in a power generator as another looks on. — White Star.

KARACHI: Sales of power generators have skyrocketed by up to 40 per cent in Ramazan as citizens, hit with rolling power cuts and heatwave in the fasting month, consider other options.

The situation is the worst in Karachi whose residents face unsche­duled blackouts of eight to 12 hours a day as the city’s main power utility, K-Electric, struggles to keep the lights on. Protesters in the city set tyres ablaze on Tuesday, a day after two protesters in Peshawar were shot dead.

“Our sales have risen by 30-40pc. People are mostly buying generators of 2 to 3 kVA capacity,” said the owner of Sikandar & Co. at the Shahrah-i-Liaquat generator market.

Sikandar Shahzada said prices of power-generating machines remained unchanged and there has been no issue of shortage so far. “People have lost hope loadshedding will ever come to an end,” he said. He said 3kVA generators of good quality sold for Rs36,000 to Rs40,000 and that of medium quality for Rs30,000.

Chairman of Pakistan Machinery Merchant Group Khurram Saigal also confirmed that sales have shot up 40pc in Ramazan over the previous month. He said China held 95pc market share in portable generator sales.

He said the price of good-quality 3kVA generator was around Rs32,000 while medium-quality ones were available for Rs26,000. Similarly, 2kVA generators were selling for Rs16,000 to Rs25,000, he said. These types of generators are popular among households and shops.

Karachiites face loadshedding of up to 12 hours

He said the markets had enough stock to meet the demand with no imminent shortage in future.

When asked why the import bill of power generators has jumped 71pc year-on-year in July-April to $2.634 billion, he said the imports largely comprised heavy-duty generators used in projects in both private and public sectors.

Major buying is for ongoing power projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Moreo­ver, private-sector builders are installing standby generators of 100-250 kVA capacity at their project sites. In Karachi, around 80 to 100 high-rises are constructed every year.

Generator imports rose to $1.838bn in 2015-16 from $1.37bn in the preceding fiscal year. It was $1.1bn in 2013-14 and $959m in the year before.

Demand for generators from industrial consumers has subsided due to zero loadshedding in industrial areas, especially in Karachi, for the last few years. However, industrialists too have now started to make hue and cry over rising power cuts.

Published in Dawn, May 31st, 2017