Prolonged power outages continued to plague Pakistanis on Tuesday as power distribution companies resorted to loadshedding in major cities amid sweltering temperatures.

Complaints about hours-long power cuts were reported in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar, and Quetta. In addition to managing load, utility companies had also cut power supply citing the need for maintenance, leaving citizens miserable.

Sona, a resident of Karachi’s Nafeesabad, told Dawn.com that electricity was available only for a few hours in her area.

“Every day, when I leave for work and when I return, there is no electricity. Throughout the day, our power goes out for three hours and as many times,” Sona said, who works as a domestic worker. She added that the outages were unannounced most of the time.

“My children have been falling sick because of the heat and we can’t afford a generator or UPS,” she said.

She added that because of her financial constraints, repeated visits to the doctor are nearly impossible. “What do we do in this scenario? Let our children die?” Sona asked.

Mohammad Naveed, a resident of Lyari, was experiencing a similar ordeal.

“We are deprived of power for two hours four times every day,” he lamented.

“Our lives are hell. I have three children and they are always crying because of the humidity and we are unable to complete household chores,” Naveed said, adding that he had recently taken a loan from his employer to purchase a generator.

However, he pointed out that despite the prolonged outages, electricity bills have increased over the past few months.

K-Electric Director Communications Imran Rana told Dawn.com that announced loadshedding was underway in the city on the basis of a “periodic assessment of losses and recoveries on the network”.

“As of now, over 70 per cent of KE’s network is receiving uninterrupted power supply,” he said, highlighting that the schedule for loadshedding was available on KE’s website and mobile applications.

Rana said outages were taking place in areas where theft of electricity was high and bills against actual consumption remained unpaid. “Yet the company provides power to these regions for 14 hours a day,” he added.

Peshawar

In Peshawar’s urban areas, five to eight hours of loadshedding were reported, while rural areas of the city experienced cuts as long as 14 to 16 hours, according to residents.

Apart from the residents, the prolonged outages affected shopkeepers the most.

“After every hour, we face loadshedding of up to two hours every single day, and this is severely affecting our work,” Rashid, who runs an electronics shop in Peshawar, told Dawn.com.

Another resident, Ashfaq, who owns a warehouse for automobiles, said it was difficult to work due to power cuts, and as a result, his profits were dipping.

When reached for comment, the Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) spokesperson Mohammad Usman blamed the outages on the increase in demand, which he said reached 3,500 megawatts in summer.

“Due to the hike in demand, the company opts for load management,” he told Dawn.com, adding that loadshedding was also being done in areas where Pesco was bearing a 90 per cent loss.

Lahore

Similarly, the people of Lahore continued to face power cuts as well.

Residents of Allama Iqbal Town and Nishtar Town told Dawn.com that they were dealing with six-hour-long outages in their areas.

A resident of the area, who wished not to be named, said they were initially informed by their distribution company that loadshedding would take place for two hours a day — on in the morning and evening. “But most of the time, the power cuts take place four to five times a day,” she added.

Khizer Hayat, a resident of Cantonment, said he, too, was facing power cuts of as long as six hours, which took place at variable times.

According to a spokesperson for the Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco), two to four hours of “load management” was being conducted in several areas of the city.

The company has also shared day-wise schedules on its Twitter detailing the hours of the shutdowns and areas.

Quetta

Meanwhile, residents of Quetta and other districts in Balochistan have been bearing the brunt of loadshedding that could last from eight to 20 hours.

Kissan Ittehad Pakistan Chairman Khalid Hussain Bhat told Dawn.com that farmers had suffered huge losses during the disastrous floods last year and had looked to the government for help.

“But none of the promises made to us were fulfilled. Now that we are trying to make things better on our own, the government has burdened us with prolonged power outages and an increase in per unit rate of electricity,” he said.

Bhat went on to say that farmers in the province were currently preparing for the production of apricots, apples and other crops. “We are in dire need of water and loadshedding will just increase our difficulties.”

He further requested the government to reduce the period for loadshedding and supply electricity to the agricultural feeder to four instead of six hours.

On the other hand, Anjuman Tajran president Abdul Rahim Kakar complained that a massive increase in loadshedding was seen in Quetta after Eidul Azha because of which business life had been paralysed.

Turning a blind eye to these reports, a statement issued from the Quetta Electric Supply Company (Qesco) said there was no shortfall of power in Balochistan, rather loadshedding was being done on the basis of “recovery” in some areas.

It said that at the moment, one to eight hours of loadshedding was being conducted in urban areas daily while in rural areas power outages lasted for 10 to 15 hours.


Additional reporting by Adnan Sheikh

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