Up to 16 hours of power outages a day spark protests

Published July 5, 2020
Protesters warned if the illegal loadshedding was not stopped, they would start a long march from Dadu to Sepco CEO office in Sukkur. — File
Protesters warned if the illegal loadshedding was not stopped, they would start a long march from Dadu to Sepco CEO office in Sukkur. — File

DADU: Electricity consumers took to the streets in Dadu, Mirpurkhas and several other towns in the two districts on Saturday and held demonstrations against power utilities for subjecting them to 12 to 16 hours long loadshedding.

In Dadu, social activists and members of general public staged demonstrations at local press club and in Chhano Shahabad locality where their leaders vented anger over Sukkur Electric Power Company (Sepco).

They claimed the Sepco officials had installed devices at 22 places in the city with which they stretched loadshedding beyond the scheduled hours. Thus, they imposed 16 hours artificial loadshedding on the city and 18 hours on villages.

Consumers term situation ‘artificial crisis’

They complained that despite paying bills and clearing all dues, connections to many consumers’ houses were cut off after they refused to pay bribe to corrupt Sepco officials. Business had been seriously hit by the loadshedding, they said.

They warned if the illegal loadshedding was not stopped, they would start a long march from Dadu to Sepco CEO office in Sukkur. The towns of Johi, Mehar, Khairpur Nathan Shah, Radhan, Thariri Mohabbat and Moro were equally suffering from the menace, they said.

They alleged that Sepco officials earned Rs40 to 41 million a month from the illegal connections and appealed to prime minister to direct federal ministry and secretary of Wapda to take action against ‘artificial’ loadshedding in Dadu district.

In Khairpur Nathan Shah, members of business community, civil society and political parties staged a march against Sepco officials on Saturday for carrying out 16 hours loadshedding in the town and its surrounding areas.

They gathered at local press club after marching on roads where the protesters’ leaders made speeches and said Sepco officials had fitted devices at 20 places in the town to stretch loadshedding artificially to 16 hours.

They said that the corrupt officials had given away illegal connections to factories of rice and flour and political bigwigs in return for bribes.

Later, the protesters observed a token hunger strike and demanded an immediate end to the artificial loadshedding in the town.

MIRPURKHAS: Power consumers held a demonstration outside the office of Hesco superintendent engineer on Saturday in protest against issuance of inflated detection bills and unannounced loadshedding.

The protesters demanded withdrawal of the bills and said that illegal bills with unjustified amounts were being issued to poor consumers to cover up line losses and power theft.

They accused Hesco officers of allowing direct connections to run air conditioners after receiving huge bribe. The loadshedding was being deliberately stretched to 12 hours without any announcement of schedule, they said.

They demanded authorities ensure withdrawal of illegal detection bills, restrict hours of loadshedding to four at the minimum and punish corrupt Hesco officials, otherwise, they would launch a protest campaign against Hesco Mirpurkhas division.

Meanwhile, Pak Sarzameen Party Mirpurkhas president Ashfaque Ahmed Papa held a press conference on loadshedding on Saturday and accused XEN of Hesco Mirpurkhas of subjecting consumers to unannounced loadshedding of 10 to 12 hours a day and issuing illegal detection bills.

He demanded the Hesco chief order an impartial inquiry, withdraw illegal detection bills and reduce loadshedding hours immediately.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2020

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