The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) on Wednesday took notice of complaints regarding continuing unannounced load-shedding in Karachi and directed the power utility to submit a detailed report in this regard.
In a statement, Nepra also noted that inflated electricity bills were being charged to consumers. "Strict directions have been given to K-Electric to take remedial measures and submit a detailed report to Nepra immediately."
It added that consumers who were receiving exorbitant bills could file complaints with Nepra's regional office in Karachi or through their website, by providing the relevant documents.
In recent weeks, citizens living in the metropolis have complained about excessive billing and unannounced power outages that have added to the misery of soaring temperatures and the coronavirus outbreak.
Many took to the streets today to protest the power outages, blocking main roads and highways to bring the issue to the attention of the relevant authorities.
Protesters said that power outages were also triggering a water crisis, adding to the burden on the common man.
Speaking to Dawn.com, a resident of Martin Quarters said that residents had to suffer through power outages at least four to five times during a day, each lasting more than an hour.
Separately, Amir, who lives near Jehangir Road, complained of load-shedding lasting for two-and-a-half hours, at least four times a day.
KE faults fuel shortage
For its part, the KE attributed the power outages to the current fuel shortage in the country.
"Over 70 per cent of Karachi, including industrial zones, is exempted from [load-shedding]. The ongoing fuel shortage is, however, leading to generation constraints. This has had an impact on K-Electric’s ability to meet the rising electricity demand on account of high temperatures," a statement by the power utility said.
It added that KE was in contact with the relevant authorities in order to swiftly resolve the issue. "We are hopeful that the situation will improve soon as authorities have taken notice and are exploring the import of furnace oil in order to regularise fuel supplies."
The statement said that areas with a higher rate of electricity theft were "experiencing higher incidences of faults, tripping and PMTs being overloaded".
"KE conducts drives against illegal connections, street light switches and illegal internet TV cables which not only affects KE's power infrastructure but also contributes to faults which pose a major safety hazard."
The power utility also clarified that all billing was being carried out in accordance with regulatory guidelines and "was in line with the mechanism laid forth by the power regulator".
"It is also important to explain that until Eid, KE provided uninterrupted power supply to all parts of Karachi including high-theft locations. This compounded by the legitimate increase in residential electricity consumption due to people staying at home and practicing social distancing has had an impact on electricity billing which must be recognised."