Amid unprecedented inflation and trickling incomes, residents of Karachi are facing yet another challenge this Ramazan: gas supply cuts.
Major complaints regarding gas load-shedding and shortages have been reported from across the metropolis, with citizens expecting a major cooking crisis during the holy month.
Saba Naveed, a resident of Lyari, told Dawn.com there has been no gas at her house for nearly four months now.
“When you switch on the stove, there is only a stale smell that comes out of it … there is no gas pressure at all,” the mother of three said, adding that her family has permanently shifted to using gas cylinders.
Saba elaborated that a 2.5kg gas cylinder costs her Rs600, which lasts for nearly two weeks. “It is not just about the money … it is a real risk using a gas cylinder with three children — under the age of 10 — around,” she said.
She further said that the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) has failed to help during the crises, despite numerous calls and visits to their Karachi office.
Moreover, Saba revealed that despite the poor supply, the company was charging them between Rs600 and Rs700 for the utility every month.
More than 15 kilometres away, the residents of Gulshan-i-Iqbal are facing a similar ordeal.
“We only get gas for six hours a day,” Usman, 28, told Dawn.com. “The time when gas is available is from 2am to 4:30am and 4pm to 8pm. Otherwise, our stove is cold throughout the day.”
Usman is responsible for running a house of six people — excluding himself — but has been jobless for over six months. He is already facing a serious financial challenge and the gas shortage has only worsened his woes.
“They charge us the complete amount of bills … there is no compromise on that. But when it comes to providing gas, it is only we who are compromising. Is this fair?” he asked.
Meanwhile, Zohaib Ahmed — who lives in Gulshan-i-Iqbal Block 2 — said there was no gas at all in his area. “We have been browsing for electric stoves on Daraz,” he told Dawn.com.
Even in other parts of Karachi, such as Garden, Saddar and Clifton, the same situation persisted.
“The government simply wants all of us to suffer,” Karima Nayani, who has been also suffering because of the gas shortage, said.
“My mother-in-law hasn’t had breakfast today. She is 70 and needs to take medicines. What do we do when there is no gas at all? Do we let her die?”
Not everyone in the country can afford a microwave or electric kettles and stoves, she went on to say. “Electricity and gas are basic necessities and they (the government) are even depriving us of that,” Karima added.
Dawn.com also received reports that gas was not available in several areas of the upscale Defence Housing Authority area, including Phase V, Phase I, Phase VI and Phase VII.
Meanwhile, SSGC spokesperson Safdar Khooharo told Dawn.com that the company had not resorted to load shedding anywhere in the country.
But, he said that certain areas may face low pressure partly because around 20 million to 20.5 million stoves take gas at the same time during sehri. “Thus, old lines of gas may face low pressure,” Khooharo added.
Earlier on Wednesday, just as the moon of Ramazan was sighted, the SSGC issued a statement announcing the timings for what it called “gas profiling” during the holy month.
It first assured consumers that gas would be provided to them uninterrupted during sehar and iftar. However, the company then stated that there was a shortfall in its system because of a yearly 8 per cent to 9pc decline in the country’s gas reserves.
“For this purpose, to ensure better gas pressure, gas profiling will continue from 8am to 2:30pm,” SSGC added.
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