KARACHI is often described as the largest and the ‘most developed’ city of Pakistan. It may be the largest, but it certainly lags behind even some rural areas of the country when it comes to development and utility services.

The pathetic performance of the higher management of the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) and the resultant shortage of natural gas in Karachi is evidence enough of what life is like in the supposedly developed, modern city.

The problem has been going on for more than a year now, and has only gone from bad to worse. It is clear that no significant steps have been taken to address the issue in any practical manner.

Over the last year, the city has been putting up with intermittent and protracted gas shortages that have a negative impact on people’s quality of life and the larger economic activity. Long- standing problems with the gas supply, especially at the beginning of the winter season, continue to affect households, impacting everyday routines and activities. Due to persistent production delays and rising operating expenses, industries have been suffering rather seriously. Worries only get multiplied when one approaches the customer care mechanism of SSGC, which is basically a could-not-care-less mechanism.

Frustrated customers have been facing many unanswered questions. It is depressing to observe the apathy of the SSGC, which has failed to address the crisis. The utility service conveniently puts the blame on those who steal gas through illegal equipment.

Is it not SSGC’s duty to locate and punish the culprits and give relief to the honest customers who pay their bills regularly?

It is depressing that thousands of low-income households in Karachi are suffering because of gas scarcity, especially in the wake of the recent shift in the weather. Many families have to turn to pricey alternatives, like buying food from hotels, or investing in expensive liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders. For the people of Karachi, this is not a temporary annoyance, but a constant struggle throughout the year.

Finding the source cause of the issue is, of course, crucial, but so is putting strong plans into place to guarantee a steady and dependable supply of natural gas. The people of Karachi have patiently put up with this state of SSGC affairs for far too long, and it is imperative that concrete measures are implemented to bring about a return quick to normalcy, and to stop the crisis from getting worse.

Muskan Mahnoor
Karachi

Published in Dawn, January 3rd, 2024

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