PM asks aides to meet KE management to address Karachi’s power woes

Updated 10 Jul 2020

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The Liaquatabad locality remains shrouded in darkness on Thursday evening as power cuts — announced and unannounced — make people’s lives in the city miserable.
—Fahim Siddiqi/White Star
The Liaquatabad locality remains shrouded in darkness on Thursday evening as power cuts — announced and unannounced — make people’s lives in the city miserable. —Fahim Siddiqi/White Star

KARACHI: Growing protests by political parties, heightening anger among consumers and persistent poor performance of the K-Electric finally attracted the attention of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who on Thursday directed his team to meet the KE management and fix the problems being faced by the Karachiites.

The intervention from the top came during a meeting of Sindh Governor Imran Ismail with the prime minister who flew to Islamabad to brief the premier on the ongoing electricity crisis in Karachi and the situation that emerged across Sindh in the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed his team members to hold a meeting with the management of the K-Electric for an early resolution of the issues with the company,” said a statement issued here from the Governor House after the meeting in Islamabad. The meeting was also attended by Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar. “In a meeting with Governor of Sindh Imran Ismail, the prime minister instructed him as well as Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar and Special Assistant to PM Shahzad Qasim to meet the company’s management to address the issue of loadshedding in Karachi.”

The directive from the PM House came after weeks of crisis and protests by political parties, including the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf which rules in the centre.

With the Jamaat-i-Islami and Pak Sarzameen Party calling upon the chief justice of Pakistan to take notice of unannounced loadshedding and overbilling by KE, the PTI for the last several days has been staging a sit-in outside the utility’s head office, demanding an end to its monopoly on electricity generation, transmission and distribution.

Governor discusses with PM Covid-19 situation, progress on federal govt-funded projects in Sindh

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan has also announced that its parliamentarians would hold a protest demonstration against KE in Islamabad on July 14. A decision to this effect was taken by the coordination committee of the MQM-P on Wednesday. Despite serious ideological and political differences, the parties are, however, on the same page when it comes to complaints against the KE over unannounced loadshedding, prolonged power cuts and overbilling. They claim it is useless to give more time to the KE to improve its performance as it would be injustice to the people of Karachi.

“The governor took the case to the PM after making his efforts which did not prove fruitful as the KE has failed to keep any of its promises it made to him in a meeting last month,” said a senior leader of the PTI. “The Sindh governor met the KE management last month and expressed his displeasure and anger over the company’s performance. He expressed his displeasure over the unannounced loadshedding in the city by the KE and said that it was tantamount to severe injustice to the residents of Karachi. The KE management promised to fix the problems within 48 hours, but no change has been witnessed yet.”

Meanwhile, in the Islamabad meeting the PM and the Sindh governor discussed other issues including progress on federal government-funded projects in Karachi and other parts of Sindh and implementation of the policies devised in the wake of coronavirus pandemic.

“Both the governor and the prime minister discussed the overall situation in Sindh, particularly related to Covid-19. The Sindh governor spoke high of the prime minister’s vision and successful strategy to combat the coronavirus in the country,” added the statement.

Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2020