Residential areas in Karachi face cooking crisis as SSGC unable to provide gas at mealtimes

Published December 1, 2023
Amid gas shortage in the city, a shopkeeper displays newly-imported gas cylinders at his shop.
—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Amid gas shortage in the city, a shopkeeper displays newly-imported gas cylinders at his shop. —Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

• Many residents switching over to LPG, using ‘illegal’ suction devices
• SSGC denies outages in any part of the city during daytime

KARACHI: While the Sui Southern Gas Company has categorically denied having resorted to loadshedding in any part of the metropolis “from 5:30am to 10:30pm”, consumers have been complaining about not getting gas even during three mealtimes, severely disrupting their daily routines, especially cooking and bathing in cold weather.

Although a spokesperson for the SSGC claimed that the utility had been providing uninterrupted gas to all of Karachi for 17 hours a day, residents complained that the situation was other way around as they were getting gas only for one hour three times a day and that, too, with low pressure.

Residents complained that the localities close to the infrastructure of the Sui Southern Gas Company Limited such as Gulistan-i-Jauhar and Gulshan-i-Iqbal were getting smooth gas supply from 6am to 10pm daily, while no gas was supplied in other parts of the city even in the morning and evening hours.

The citizens condemned the gas utility for maintaining proper gas flow to commercial installations such as hotels, restaurants and eateries in certain vicinities whereas domestic consumers were deprived of the natural commodity.

The ongoing gas crisis has forced most residents to switch over from natural gas to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to meet their gas requirements, resulting in rise in the sale and purchase of gas cylinders.

A resident of Clifton, Dureshawar Khalid, said that the gas had not flowed through the pipes in her area and residents, including her, had no option but to switch over to LPG for cooking and warming water for bath.

Amna Khan, a resident of DHA, complained that she got natural gas only for minutes three times a day. “Like any other part of the city, you can’t obtain gas without using suction devices, but that only when you have uninterrupted electricity,” she added.

Many residents thought that certain gas utility officials from top to bottom were involved in creating gas shortage, particularly in the residential areas.

Qaiser Jahan, a resident of Shah Faisal Colony, said that she was forced to lessen her cooking activities due to continued short supply of natural gas. “Occasionally, I have to order food for my kids from restaurants,” she said adding that she had also bought an electric kettle for making tea and coffee as there was hardly any gas in the morning in her area.

Shabbir Khan, a resident of Hijrat Colony, said that he was a driver by profession and he did not earn that much money to meet his domestic fuel needs by buying expensive LPG for cooking.

A resident of Federal B Area Block 15 said that gas was being supplied only for one hour three times a day with a very low pressure.

Recently, reports regarding a specific gas supply schedule for the upcoming winter were widely circulated on social media, leading to anxiety among the citizens.

Izhar Ahmed, a resident of Jinnah Square Malir, said that the beginning of the winter season had brought unannounced and prolonged gas loadshedding in the entire city, piling miseries on people, mainly students and office-going people.

He said that the SSGC had started loadshedding much ahead of the officially planned loadshedding, actually scheduled for December.

Darakhshan Jabeen, a resident of Tariq Road, said that her locality had been facing very low pressure or no supply of gas during peak hours for the past several weeks.

“The SSGC complaint service, 1199, keep on telling us that they did not have any information about any schedule or unscheduled loadshedding in my area,” she said and added that she was left with no other option but to use LPG to meet the domestic requirement.

A resident of Saddar said that his locality and adjoining neighbourhoods, including Lines Area and Burns Road, had been witnessing low pressure for the past one year and the gas utility never paid any heed to their repeated complaints.

SSGC Spokesman Salman Siddiqui, however, denied gas loadshedding in any part of the city during daytime.

“Gas supply is suspended only at night-time from 10:30pm to 5:30am,” he told Dawn.

The spokesman said that the gas utility was getting short supply of the natural gas, which was causing gas shortage in the city.

Moreover, he said that the province was getting 850 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d) of gas against the demand of 1,200 MMcf/d.

The spokesman said that the city was experiencing shortage of gas due to severe winter in Balochistan, which was being supplied additional gas as it was needed for survival of the people.

He also denied that hotels and restaurants were supplied more gas than domestic consumers.

He said that hotels and restaurants and domestic consumers were supplied gas through the same line.

As of low pressure, he said that it was caused due to installation of gas suction devices at houses.

He said: “These devices are not just illegal, but dangerous too as recent incidents have shown,” cautioning consumers against the use of gas suction pumps.

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2023

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