MQM-P holds angry protest against KE over prolonged loadshedding

Published May 21, 2024
MQM-P workers and residents of district East stage a sit-in outside a KE office on Tipu Sultan Road on Monday.—Dawn
MQM-P workers and residents of district East stage a sit-in outside a KE office on Tipu Sultan Road on Monday.—Dawn

• Burning of tyres, wooden stuff outside KE office on Tipu Sultan Road leads to hours-long traffic jams
• Utility condemns ‘attack on its office’, says Rs4.9bn dues outstanding against defaulters in PIB, Lines Area, Old Subzi Mandi

KARACHI: Workers of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and residents of Martin Quarters, Clayton Quarters, PIB Colony, etc, staged a demonstration outside an office of the K-Electric on Tipu Sultan Road, lit bonfires and blocked the main road for vehicular traffic in protest over prolonged loadshedding and inflated power bills.

Due to the protest, organised by the MQM-P, traffic remained suspended on the key road for at least two hours, causing a traffic mess on adjoining arteries.

The KE staffs were also forced to lock all entrance and exit points from inside as the angry protesters tried to barge into the office.

Without naming the MQM-P, the KE issued a statement in the evening and called the protest a “criminal assault” and vowed to “pursue legal action against those responsible”.

It all started when dozens of protesters, including women and children led by MQM-P lawmakers converged outside the KE office on Tipu Sultan Road to lodge a protest against the “criminal attitude” of the power utility amid harsh weather conditions.

The presence of the protesters led to the suspension of vehicular traffic on the road. However, the situation turned tense when wooden stuffs were set on fire on the main road.

Carrying placards and chanting slogans against the KE management, the demonstrators were mainly protesting against the power crisis in Clayton Road, Jamshed Road, PIB Colony, Martin Quarters and all the neighbouring localities.

After some time, women protesters, backed by a few men, gathered in front of the main gate of the KE office, seeking entry into the facility. When the KE management shut all gates, the protesters started knocking at the doors with full force.

Later, MQM-P legislators including Farah Sohail, Danial Ahmed and Amir Siddiqi addressed the protesters.

They demanded the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government to cancel the licence of KE as the power utility had “miserably failed” to serve the people of the metropolis.

They said that the KE was defying all protocols set by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) and the MQM-P itself was going to challenge the renewal of the company’s licence before the Supreme Court.

They alleged that the KE was carrying out up to 18 hours of loadshedding in Karachi in the hot and humid weather and several exempted areas were also subjected to shutdowns.

They said that the KE couldn’t achieve self-reliance in electricity production, nor could it bring loadshedding to an end, despite the passage of 18 years to its privatisation.

The KE, the MQM-P leaders said, was subjecting tens of thousands of its consumers to mental torture and forcing them to face financial losses.

Later, the protesters dispersed peacefully.

Rs4.9bn KE dues

The KE claimed in a statement that its Tipu Sultan office was “attacked” and the protesters damaged its property.

“The K-Electric strongly condemns the attack on its office and will pursue legal action against those responsible for the criminal assault and property damage. The utility has called on local elected representatives to help restore peace in the area,” it said.

It claimed that the outstanding dues from defaulters in PIB Colony, Lines Area, Kernal Basti, and Old Sabzi Mandi had surged beyond Rs4.9 billion and despite that, loadshedding was being conducted as per the schedule available on the KE website.

“The duration of loadshedding is directly linked with the ratio of electricity theft and non-payment of bills in a given area. Areas where theft and non-payment are reduced can benefit from improved power supply. Shutdowns due to maintenance or local faults should not be equated with loadshedding,” added the statement.

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2024

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