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Loadshedding sparks furious protests in Peshawar

July 05, 2012


PESHAWAR, July 4: Furious protest demonstrations were held in different parts of the provincial metropolis on Wednesday against excessive power loadshedding, while protesters blocked city’s major arteries for about six hours, causing great inconvenience to motorists amid scorching heat.

The protesters observed sit-ins on various roads, including the main University Road, and chanted anti-government slogans for routine prolonged outages as temperatures in Peshawar touched 47 degrees Celsius on Wednesday.

Following failure of negotiations between protesters and district administration officials, police resorted to baton charge and teargas shelling against protestors and forcefully cleared the University Road. “We tried to clear the road for traffic by talking to protesters, but they were not ready even to listen to us and the last option left with police was to beat them, as the commuters, including women and children, had suffered a lot,” said Tehkal Police Station SHO Zahoor Khan. He said that protesters would be booked for causing inconvenience to public.

The angry power consumers blocked the main University Road from morning till about 2pm, created hurdles and damaged government installations on the road, including traffic signals, while the area police remained helpless.

Other major arteries, including Bara Road and Ring Road, were blocked by demonstrators from suburban Peshtakhara and Sufaid Dheri areas. The protesters, who burnt tyres, did not allow motorists to move ahead rather they forced drivers to join their protest.

People also held a protest demonstration on Grand Trunk Road at Hashtnagri. However, the blockade at university road was the worst one for the day, which badly affected routine life as people had to wait inside their vehicles for several hours amid scorching heat.

The blockage of main roads also caused clogging of link roads and long queues of vehicles were seen their, while no policeman was available to regulate traffic.

Reconstruction work on Bara Road further aggravated the problem, as heavy traffic moved on to the narrow Gulberg Road, which virtually remained clogged for several hours. Besides, the police had also created hurdles on different link roads as part of a security plan for the visit of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Wednesday.

The protesters said that they had been facing unscheduled power suspensions and the officials of Peshawar Electric Supply Company avoided even to listen to their complaints. “It is joke with the people that electricity is restored for five to 10 minutes at different times, and exactly the same happened on Tuesday night,” said the protesting consumers.

They said that they paid the inflated power bills on regular basis, but even then they were subjected to prolonged power suspensions. Others said that excessive power outages had deprived them of livelihood.

A group of power consumers belonging to Surizai Payan and Surizai Bala warned the Pesco staff of Chamkani sub-division to vacate their offices if they were unable to ensure smooth power supply to the areas.

The protestors were led by some former nazims and councilors, including PML-N provincial secretary information Nasir Khan Musazai, Malik Aman, Malik Hakeem Khan, Javaid Khan and Noor Mohammad.

The protesters said that the rulers should step down forthwith as they had failed to solve problems being faced by people.

They warned to block the G.T. road daily if the government did not ensure power supply to their localities. However, they dispersed when Wapda XEN Dost Mohammad Khan assured them of solution to the loadshedding problem.