KARACHI: Outages trigger riots

Published September 15, 2008

KARACHI, Sept 14: Tired of prolonged and frequent power outages in the city, enraged consumers took to the streets, chanting slogans against the power utility and the government over the absence of electricity during Sehr and Iftar, besides other times of the day.

The situation remained chaotic in Federal B Area, Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Gulistan-i-Jauhar, Malir, Gulberg, Patel Para, Sachal and Safoora Goth, North Nazimabad, Lyari, Baldia, Orangi, New Karachi, North Karachi, Defence and Clifton on Sunday.

Despite being a closed holiday when power consumption in commercial areas and offices is relatively lower, a vast area of the city remained without electricity for more than eight hours as the KESC battled to keep its overloaded distribution system going, sources said, adding that the utility faced a shortfall of over 700 megawatts.

Old Golimar residents blocked vehicular traffic and shouted slogans against the federal minister for water and power over the deepening power crisis, which not only affected domestic consumers but also destroyed industrial and trade activities.

“Give us light or pack up,” chanted power-stricken residents of various sectors of Korangi, Manzoor Colony and other areas as they came out of their residences to protest against the foreign management of the Karachi Electric Supply Company on Sunday.

While Karachians demanded of the government to intervene and reverse the privatisation of the KESC, the foreign management and the government, apparently abetting their cause, remained indifferent to the miseries of power consumers.

Insiders say that the privatised management enjoys support in the planning commission and that of Federal Minister for Water and Power Raja Pervez Ashraf.

A resident of Defence Phase IV, Brigadier (retd) Shamshad, told Dawn that his area remained without electricity for many hours. Prolonged outages had become order of the day, while the authorities seemed indifferent to the plight of citizens, he said.

Complainants from other affected areas said there was hardly any power supply beyond one hour. In fact most of the time during the day there was outage for more than two hours after every 20 minutes.

Seminar

Meanwhile, a roundtable discussion on power crisis was held on Sunday.

The programme, presided over by chairperson of the Pakistan Engineering Council Senator Rukhsana Zubairi, was jointly organised by the Institute of Engineers Pakistan, Karachi Centre, the Institution of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Pakistan and the Pakistan Engineering Council.

The speakers deliberated upon the power crisis faced by the city since November 2005 when the KESC was privatised and demanded that the privatisation commission’s correspondence with the KESC and agreements with Nepra be made public.

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