Power protesters block Torkham Highway in Landi Kotal

Published April 30, 2024
Residents stage a protest on Torkham Highway on Monday.—Dawn
Residents stage a protest on Torkham Highway on Monday.—Dawn

KHYBER: Residents on Monday blocked the main Torkham Highway in Landi Kotal here for several hours complaining that the power utility is suspending supply for more than 20 hours daily.

They also accused the Tribal Areas Electric Supply Company of discriminating against them over power supply.

Staff members of grid stations in Landi Kotal, Jamrud, and Bara areas confirmed the drastic reduction of power supply and said electricity was provided to the region for just two hours daily on the instructions of high-ups over the consistent refusal of residents to install power meters in their houses.

They said that residents without power meters would be subjected to almost 22 hours of daily power suspension.

Claim supply suspended for over 20 hours daily

Officials said Tesco had declared several times in the recent past that it could not supply free electricity to domestic consumers due to financial constraints.

The protesters stayed put on the highway for several hours and refused to go away until authorities promised an increase in the duration of the power supply.

Residents of Bara, Jamrud, and Landi Kotal confirmed a drastic reduction in power supply and said that for several days, they had been getting electricity only for two hours daily.

They said the prolonged suspension of electric supply had badly hit their lives, especially by causing an acute shortage of water.

People’s representatives, along with tribal elders, political activists, and civil society members in Jamrud and Bara areas, took a serious exception to the issue and urged authorities, especially Tesco, to ensure the provision of electricity to domestic consumers for six hours daily as promised.

Former MPA from Bara Mohammad Shaeeq told Dawn that the provinces got sufficient funds from the federal government under the Federal Divisible Pool, and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government could utilise some of those funds to clear the outstanding bills, that the merged tribal districts owe to the Pesco.

He called upon the elected MNAs and MPAs to play a proactive role in reducing the duration of power suspensions as well as resolving the billing issue.

In Jamrud, the Kukikhel elders held a jirga and warned the tribesmen they would agitate if their demand for an increase in electricity supply was not met until next Monday (May 6).

Elder Malak Naseer said that the local grid station staff had promised power supply for six hours daily to the region following demonstrations a few months ago against Tesco’s call for the installation of power meters in houses and on other private premises.

He also demanded a final return plan for the remaining Kukikhel families to Rajgal and adjoining areas in Tirah with a solution to the boundary dispute between the Kukikhel tribe and Peshawar district over the construction of private houses on disputed land in the Regi Lalma Housing Scheme.

Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2024

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