KARACHI, July 27: Complaints of intermittent and prolonged power failures continued to pour in on Thursday despite the claim by the Karachi Electricity Supply Corporation that it had a surplus of no less than six megawatts electricity at its disposal.

Residents of many localities reported that they were without power for hours even while the KESC management was briefing President Pervez Musharraf about ‘improvement’ in the KESC performance and that the utility was going to inject an investment of billions of rupees to streamline its distribution system.

Chief Executive Officer of the KESC Frank Scherschmidt gave President Musharraf a presentation about the utility’s performance and investment plans for the current fiscal year at a meeting here on Thursday. He told the president that the new KESC management would invest Rs22 billion this year under its plan which included procurement of a combine-cycle power plant to be made operational by next summer.

Briefing newsmen at the KESC headquarters, he said that the president was informed of the problems like inadequate power generation and overloading of distribution system being faced by the power utility. He said that he briefed the president about installation of a power plant having a capacity of 730 megawatts. To be made operational next year, the plant would be upgraded to produce 250 megawatts more power by the year 2008.

According to him, he also informed the president that an additional 140mbtu per month gas would be required for the new power plant.

The presentation included the points of installing three new grid stations, installing new overhead extra-high tension lines, pole-mounted transformers, power transformers to improve the distribution system and bring stability in supply, etc., which would help contain tripping and power breakdown. He said that the KESC had also plans for having coal power plant.

Mr Frank said that the president assured him of all support to the KESC management and directed the KESC to keep people informed of exact situation and disseminate transparent information about the power situation. The president directed the KESC to improve its power generation capacity and prove that the privatisation of the utility was a success.

Chairman Abdulaziz Hamad Aljomaih and CEO Mr Frank thanked the president for pledging support, and assured him that the KESC would increase its power generation capacity and improve power supply situation.

Mr Frank said that the vision of the KESC management was to win consumers’ trust by providing excellent service.

He said that the operations and management contract was given to the Siemens and it was there responsibility to turn the power utility into a profitable entity in two years. If the Siemens failed to do so, the terms and conditions of the contract will apply, Mr Frank said without mentioning the nature of action in such a case.

Regarding the power supply situation on Thursday, a KESC spokesman said that North Nazimabad grid station was affected at around 6am and it was made operational by 8:45am. Due to system constraints, power supply got interrupted in the areas connected with Elander Road, Civic Centre, Liaquatabad, Surjani, North Karachi and Mauripur grid stations.

The Hubco-Baldia link could not be restored but, hopefully, it would be functional by Friday. He said that the nature helped the KESC keep the power demand low and the power utility saved up to 6 megawatts.However, people continued to complain of frequent and prolonged power failures.

A resident from Block S, North Nazimabad, said that power supply to his area was suspended for more than 10 hours. He said that the supply had been discontinued on the pretext of trimming a tree. He alleged that the work had been undertaken so negligently that the trimmed branches of the tree fell on wires which ultimately snapped. The repair work that ensued took several hours.

An irate power consumer, Mr Javed, from Phase VII, Khayaban-i-Hilal, said that it was only yesterday that the KESC had told people it would no more resort to carrying out loadshedding, but a loadshedding of five hours in the morning and another two hours in the evening had been carried out in his locality.

Asad Raza Zedi from Soni Chalet Bungalows, Scheme 33, said power supply was discontinued at around 3pm and even after a lapse of five hours now, it was not restored. Several calls were made on the centralised complaint centre number ‘118’ but it was found busy. Only once the operator picked up the receiver, but disconnected the line without receiving the complaint. He said that many attempts were made to lodge a complaint at the local centre’s number, 4968377, but the number remained busy.

A resident of Gulshan-i-Umair, Scheme 42-A, Sabir Ali said that power supply to his locality had been discontinued at around 2:30pm and it was not restored till late in the night.

Residents of Gulistan-i-Jauhar, Gulshan-i-Iqbal, parts of Federal B Area, Liaquatabad, Nazimabad, Clifton, Defence Housing Authority, Lalazaar, Malir, Landhi and other areas also complained of frequent and prolonged power failures on Thursday.

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