KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has sought immediate intervention of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to resolve issues between the Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGC) and K-Electric (KE) so that some relief could be provided to residents and businesses in Karachi who have been enduring long hours of load-shedding over the past few days.

The chief minister has written a letter to the prime minister — which is his second letter within 10 days — highlighting the urgency of providing relief to the city’s people from load-shedding.

Mr Shah has written in his letter that the residents of the metropolis and the local industry have been enduring electricity outages of over 10 hours in a day at a time when temperatures are continuously rising. Load-shedding is especially taking a heavy toll on students who are appearing in the secondary school board examinations these days, he said and expressed the fear that such a situation could create a law and order problem.

The chief minister said he had convened a meeting on Saturday which was attended by the management and board members of both the SSGC and KE. The representatives of both the companies said they were cognisant of the seriousness of the situation, but they presented their respective positions on the issue, he added.

The chief minister informed the prime minister that the SSGC has offered in the public interest to increase the volume of gas supply to the KE through the gas management plan, provided the electric supply company pays security deposit, resolves outstanding payment issue and signs a GSA (gas supply agreement). The KE, on the other hand, is committed to providing security deposit and showed readiness to sign the GSA on mutually agreed terms.

According to the letter, the SSGC in an emergency board meeting on Sunday reportedly approved supply of 120mmcfd (million cubic feet per day) gas to the KE upon furnishing Rs6 billion security deposit that is equivalent to three-month average bill of 150mmcfd gas supply and signing of mutually agreed terms of reference for the appointment of an independent chartered accountant firm. The KE, however, maintains that payment of mark-up/late payment surcharge to the SSGC is a complex matter as it, in turn, involves recovery of outstanding electricity dues from the federal government (tariff differential subsidy) and other strategic bulk consumers.

According to the letter, a committee may be constituted comprising representatives of the federal and provincial governments, SSGC and KE to sort out the outstanding payment issues.

Published in Dawn, Aprill 10th, 2018

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