Cable operators protest KE's 'stubbornness' by suspending TV, internet services in 5 cities in Sindh

Updated 14 Jul 2020

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KE added that in "broader public interest", it had offered technical support to cable operators to ensure that the project was completed before the onset of the monsoon season.— Reuters/File
KE added that in "broader public interest", it had offered technical support to cable operators to ensure that the project was completed before the onset of the monsoon season.— Reuters/File

Cable and internet operators on Tuesday continued their strike against K-Electric (KE) by suspending cable television and internet services in five cities across Sindh to protest what they termed as the power utility's "stubborn attitude".

Earlier today, Pakistan Cable Operators Association Chairman Khalid Arain said that instead of suspending services for two hours, as was done on Monday, cable and internet operators would suspend services for three hours from 7pm to 10pm in Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Nawabshah and Larkana.

Speaking to Dawn.com, Arain stated that a meeting had taken place today with Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Ali Shallwani in order to resolve the issues between the two parties. "However, no KE representative attended the meeting," he claimed, adding that the commissioner directed the relevant authorities to facilitate cable operators in moving their wires underground.

He maintained that Karachi was a sprawling metropolis and cable and internet operators needed time — at least three years — to shift their systems. "We need time and KE is not giving us time," he said, adding that the suspension of services was continuing due to the power utility's "stubborn attitude".

He said that another meeting will take place with the Karachi commissioner tomorrow to resolve the issues between the two parties.

The Karachi commissioner added that cable operators will start working as per the NOC issued by the commissioner's office and will "ensure that there are no loose cables on electricity poles" which can endanger the lives of the people.

Meanwhile, the power utility denied allegations of cutting cable/internet wires, saying that it had only removed those "which had posed an immediate threat to safety".

"Cable operators had committed to starting safe cable projects in 50 locations but have not done so yet," it said in a tweet. "KE is committed to safeguarding its network and reserves the right to remove any safety hazard."

'Cable operators failed to fulfill commitments'

On Monday night, KE had responded to cable and internet operators' "token strike" against the power utility's "high-handedness", saying that they had failed to shift their "illegal and unsafe wires to a safe underground system", despite making commitments.

In a press conference earlier in the day, Arain had announced that in order to protest KE's "oppressive measures", TV and broadband services would remain suspended in Karachi between 7pm and 9pm.

He had alleged that the power utility had cut cable and internet wires without prior warning, as it held cable operators responsible for the deaths caused during last year's rains due to electrocution.

In a series of tweets, KE "strongly reasserted its determination to continue its drive against [the] illegal encroachment of its infrastructure by TV and internet cables," calling them a "major safety hazard".

The power utility claimed that the Pakistan Telecommunication Access Provider Association (PTAPA) had assured local authorities that they will shift their "illegal and unsafe wires" underground. "The first phase of this project on 50 locations was supposed to be completed by July 20, 2020."

KE added that in "broader public interest", it had offered technical support to cable operators to ensure that the project was completed before the onset of the monsoon season. "However, despite the deadline, certain cable operators have failed in their commitments."

The power utility concluded its statement by saying that it was determined to take action against illegal cable TV and internet connections to ensure people's safety and asked citizens to support them in removing this "menace" from Karachi.