Long hot summer

June 29, 2020

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AT the height of the blazing Karachi summer, a grim annual ritual is playing out in the bustling metropolis. As the sun beats down mercilessly on the city and high humidity makes conditions stifling, long power cuts — announced and unannounced — have become routine across the metropolis, heaping further misery upon the frazzled dwellers of Karachi. K-Electric, the city’s sole power supplier, says the additional cuts are due to furnace oil and gas shortages. However, the federal government does not appear to be buying its explanation. The power division, for example, says inadequate distribution and transmission capacity of KE has exacerbated the crisis. The Sindh government, meanwhile, has pointed the finger at Islamabad, blaming it for short fuel supplies. As the stakeholders shift the blame, the people of Karachi have to bear the consequences in suffocating heat.

While load-shedding in the summer months is an excruciating experience every year, this time, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, power cuts are putting increased pressure on the people. With partial lockdowns still in place, many people continue to work and study at home. Moreover, many patients are also self-isolating at home, so there is an added urgency to solve the issue without delay. Already there have been protests against the power cuts in several city areas, as people have been compelled to take to the streets due to the scarcity of electricity and water. To prevent further deterioration of law and order, and for the sake of public health and well-being, the crisis needs to be addressed immediately. The KE chief met the Sindh governor on Friday and assured him the situation would be resolved soon, while Nepra has also taken “serious notice” of Karachi’s power crisis. Instead of pointing fingers at each other, all stakeholders — the centre, the Sindh administration as well as KE — need to identify the problem and resolve it quickly so that power cuts are brought down to a bare minimum, or eliminated altogether.

Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2020