• Urban areas experience six to 10 hours, rural parts witness eight to 16 hours of loadshedding
• 6,000 to 7,000MW shortfall reported; utilities claim situation will improve soon
LAHORE/ISLAMABAD/PESHAWAR/KARACHI: The menace of loadshedding swept across the country on Thursday, leaving homes and businesses in the dark as temperatures continued to rise ahead of a forecast heatwave.
Citizens complained of 6 to 10 hours of outages in urban areas, while those in rural parts of the country — including localities falling within the service area of high-loss feeders — witnessed 8 to 16 hours of loadshedding.
No part of the country was spared the blackouts.
“Since Wednesday, the duration of loadshedding has gone up to eight hours or more in Lahore; four to six hours in the day and two to four hours at night,” deplored a resident of Lahore’s Johar Town locality.
Another citizen from Khanewal reported 12 to 14 hours of loadshedding on a daily basis.
From Sukkur division, residents complained that no one was even available to register their complaints. “It is becoming more terrible for people who are fasting,” he said.
Sources said the current gap in demand and supply was widening fast owing to a drop in power generation by thermal plants, brought on by a severe shortage of gas and other fuels.
“With increasing temperatures, the total shortfall is ranging between 7,000 to 8,000MW, and it may surge further if the hot and dry weather persists in the coming days,” a power official told Dawn.
He said that the demand on Lahore Electric Supply Company alone surged to 4,600MW at iftar time whereas supply was near 3,900MW.
Another official put the total power demand figure from the country (excluding Karachi) at 18,500MW in peak hours, while only 14,500MW were being supplied.
Even in the capital and the garrison city, there is no respite from the prolonged outages, with people complaining that life in the holy month of Ramazan had become very difficult for them under the circumstances.
Many are complaining of power outages at the peak times of sehri and iftar.
“Loadshedding is hitting us during the hot weather, and the government should realise that it is not possible to spend days and nights without electricity,” said Nauman Ahmed, a resident of Westridge Bazaar.
He told Dawn that the women of his household who were fasting were being put in a very difficult situation; there was no power to run kitchen appliances and they had to toil in the heat to prepare meals for sehri and iftar.
Aziz Ahmed, a tailor, said that the common people regularly paid electricity bills but they did not get electricity as per their requirement. “We failed to give stitched suits to the customers on time. The frequent power cuts made difficult to do work,” he said.
However, IESCO officials said that they were studying the power load management at different times in most parts of the region, mainly due to the rapid increase in demand for electricity due to rising temperatures and the temporary difference in demand and supply of electricity.
IESCO officials claimed they were in touch with the concerned formations and uninterrupted supply of electricity to consumers will be started as soon as they overcome the present situation.
Large parts of provincial capital and its adjoining districts are also facing hours-long power outages.
Abdul Qadir, a resident of Gulshan Colony said that their power supply was good till the heat wave kicked it. “The loadshedding has jumped more than 14 hours for past two days,” he said. He said that it was particularly difficult at sehri and iftar timings. He said that prolonged shedding was also causing gas outages as many people were running gas generators.
In addition to this, Charsadda, Nowshera and Khyber were also facing prolonged power cuts during the Ramzan. In many of the areas, people complain of load shedding in excess of 15 hours per day.
Karachi and Sindh
Citizens of Karachi did not have any relief either as K-Electric on Thursday piled miseries on consumers by announcing two-hour loadshedding in specific areas of the city.
A spokesman for the power utility said: “KE’s production capacity is also being affected due to a shortage of fuel. To manage the situation, 2 hours of load management is being undertaken. The situation is expected to improve following a decrease in commercial activity during Eid.”
According to the new schedule, different localities of the city will face a two-hour loadsheding ahead of Eidul Fitr in addition to the routine power outages.
Like other parts of the country, Balochistan is also facing acute shortage of power supply, causing long load-shedding across the province while temperature was increasing with passing of everyday. The Provincial capital Quetta was facing 6 to 8 hours lad-shedding while in the people were getting power supply 6 to 8 hours.
Quetta Electric Supply Company (QESCO) officials told Dawn that the district headquarters in Balochistan were facing 12 to 14 hours load shedding due to shortfall of power production.
Published in Dawn, April 29th, 2022