KARACHI: Consumers of the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC), who live in diverse areas in the city, have been complaining of having no gas for cooking meals despite the fact that the utility had earlier promised that gas loadshedding will not be carried out during mealtimes, but the opposite is happening now.
On Dec 11, the SSGC had officially announced that domestic consumers would get gas only for total eight hours in a day — morning, afternoon and evening — during “meal timing”.
But, from affluent areas to low-income neighbourhoods there are widespread complaints of either no gas or very low pressure during mealtimes.
Even the SSGC appears helpless as a spokesperson acknowledges the problem of low gas pressure during breakfast, lunch and dinner times in the city.
“There is not enough gas in the house to make breakfast. We get very low pressure, and the flame of the stove is similar to the flame of a candle. My family, including my young children, have to make do with tea and biscuits because we can’t cook eggs or paratha with such low gas pressure,” a resident of Scheme 33 told Dawn.
Red flame that indicates low gas pressure has a blackening effect, confirms spokesperson
“Wrapping up my work for the day, I was about to head home while looking forward to a relaxing dinner with the family when I received a call from my wife asking me to grab dinner for myself from someplace outside because there was no gas at home to cook or even warm up the food in the fridge,” said another resident of Scheme 33, Gulzar-i-Hijri, near Safoora Goth.
“When I reached home, there were the raw onions, tomatoes and other vegetables all cut into small pieces lying on the kitchen counter but still no gas. The family also had to order food to be delivered at home,” said the gentleman, who added that things don’t look like they will improve anytime soon.
A resident of Bhittai Colony in Korangi Creek Cantonment said that even though they have gas it just vanishes during the peak times they need it. “We have gas most of the time but not at breakfast, lunch or dinner time, which is so strange and such a huge problem,” he said.
Another resident of Defence Phase-V said that for cooking purposes his family has come to rely on gas cylinders rather than Sui Gas. “The cylinder takes care of the cooking side but we still need gas for the water geyser, especially during this cold weather. For that we have electric immersion water heating rods to warm up the water inside the geyser tank,” he said.
Perhaps the clearest picture of misery without gas in the line was shared by a female resident of Malir Cantt, a place better known as the Cantt Bazaar area. She said that for some strange reason, residents all around seem to have gas with the exception of her lane only. “We have complained but seen no improvement,” she said.
“Earlier, there was gas loadshedding but still there was gas for mealtimes. Now there is no specific time for the loadshedding. We don’t have any gas for two to three weeks, too, at a stretch. It’s not even there during mealtimes,” she said, adding: “And the rare times when there is gas, it produces a reddish flame which stinks and blackens the pots and pans. I have to drive to my relatives to cook or just to make tea. We can no longer boil water for drinking and have to buy bottled water. To heat water for bathing, we use an electric rod.
“All this extra driving and buying drinking water have doubled our expenses. I also bought a small electric burner for Rs13,000 for cooking but you can’t cook roti on that. To warm up food, I use the microwave oven. And now the electricity bills are also higher. On top of that, we received a Rs450 gas bill. What on Earth for?”
“January is the coldest month across the country. So we are facing a depressing situation for the coming month. We are also hearing that this gas crisis might not even improve after winter,” she said.
According to a SSGC spokesperson, their aim was to not cause inconvenience to consumers, but it is also a fact that gas resources are getting low in this country.
“We are losing gas resources by 10 to 20 per cent every year and it has an impact. Whatever gas we have, we wanted to prioritise cooking food. So we had announced a schedule for providing gas in the morning, afternoon and evening. But what is going on now is that since everyone is cooking at the same time when we had promised to carry on no loadshedding of gas, the pressure in the pipelines are dropping,” the spokesperson explained.
About the red flame, it was further explained that it is a low pressure flame because gas coming at full pressure produces a blue flame. “The red flame has a blackening effect. It also produces less heat or lower temperature,” the spokesperson added.
Published in Dawn, january 2th, 2023