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Inquiries ordered into Karachi power outages

Updated October 06, 2018

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This file photo shows Karachi in darkness during a power outage.
This file photo shows Karachi in darkness during a power outage.

ISLAMABAD: Taking apparently divergent stances, the federal government and the power regulator have ordered separate probes into electricity breakdowns in Karachi and adjoining areas on Oct 2.

In a statement, the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) said it had taken a serious notice of another major blackout in the city on Oct 2 and “directed K-Electric to immediately provide a detailed report.”

The regulator has also “raised serious concern on the prevailing situation in respect of poor performance of KE’s distribution network” and believed the company was not investing to improve its transmission and distribution network as tripping was getting frequent.

Therefore, KE management has been directed to provide the detailed report regarding the said power breakdown along with preventive and corrective steps taken by it.

The hours-long power breakdown most areas including Defence, Clifton, Gadap, Saddar, Uthal, Korangi as well as pockets in Johar, Landhi, Nazimabad, Garden, Layari etc.

On top of that, the regulator said a number of consumers complained that company’s call centre officials were not entertaining complaints despite several attempts.

Power Minister Ayub Khan said “prevailing issue of tripping in main transmission lines in the areas of K-Electric and other coastal regions is due to adverse weather conditions.”

He said the high moisture in coastal areas caused technical faults in the main transmission lines which ultimately led to power outage in Karachi, Thatha and Badin. The minister directed authorities to investigate the matter in detail to see if any preventive maintenance was carried out by both NTDC and KE. “Strict action will be taken against officials if it is established that the issue was caused due to any negligence,” he added.

Ayub asked the concerned authorities to immediately prepare proposal for replacement of insulators and carry out maintenance work so that the issue may not arise again.

Reacting to Nepra, KE said it will submit its response in due course along with all relevant facts. Its spokesperson Khayyam Siddiqi confirmed that localised tripping due to high humidity levels occurred in the early hours of Tuesday which caused partial power interruption for few hours.

Separately, he said the company also had to resort to forced load management of up to an hour in loadshedding-exempt areas as power supply to KE from the national grid remained restricted due to technical reasons that day.

He said the KE maintained close coordination with the concerned authorities for earliest possible restoration and power supply was brought back to routine levels in the city as soon as the supply from the national grid was fully restored.

Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2018