KARACHI: Natural gas disappeared from people’s stoves as soon as the Ramazan moon was sighted, leaving people in Karachi, Quetta and Rawalpindi high and dry on the first day of the holy month.
Although the government had announced that gas would be available to consumers for sehr and iftar, citizens from areas across the country complained of low and no gas pressure throughout the day.
An official announcement from Sui Southern had announced timings for what it called “gas profiling” during the month of Ramazan.
Although the statement assured consumers they would be provided gas at sehr and iftar time, the company cited a shortfall in its system because of a yearly 8-9pc 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.
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.
SSGC spokesperson Safdar Khooharo told Dawn that the company had not resorted to load shedding anywhere in the country, but pointed out that certain areas may face low pressure, partly because around 20 million to 20.5 million stoves are turned on at the same time ahead of sehri. “Thus, old lines of gas may face low pressure,” Mr Khooharo added.
The situation was no different in the garrison city, where Ali Abbas, a resident of Dhoke Ratta, said locals had lodged complaints at the Sui Northern Rawalpindi office, but officials were not taking the matter seriously.
He blamed the mushroom growth of CNG filling stations on an adjoining road for the low pressure, claiming that these were provided gas from the main line meant for domestic consumers.
Mohammad Tauqeer, a resident of Arya Mohallah, told Dawn he had to buy coal to cook food as gas was not available after midnight in his area.
Officials at the SNGPL regional office said there was a gap between demand and supply as the domestic load increased three times in Ramazan.
They said the company was giving priority to domestic consumers under the special directives of the federal government and promised that the situation would improve in the coming days.
Like Karachi, many parts of Quetta also remained without gas supply on the first day of Ramazan. “We had no other option when we woke up and found no gas pressure to cook sehri,” Abdullah Zehri, a resident of Jail Road, told Dawn.
The Jinnah Road, Kasi Road, Jail Road, Jinnah Town and Model Town areas faced low gas pressure issues, while localities on the outskirts of the provincial capital faced complete suspension and unannounced load shedding on the very first day of Ramadan.
Reports from Pishin, Ziarat, Mastung, Kalat, Sibi, Bolan and other towns also facing load shedding and low gas pressure.
Muzhira Amin and Imtiaz Ali in Karachi, Aamir Yasin in Islamabad and Saleem Shahid in Quetta also contributed to this report
Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2023
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