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People suffer as massive power failure hits city

August 06, 2012

Barber busies in his work in candle lights while city is plunged into darkness during electricity load-shedding in Karachi on Sunday, August 05, 2012. - Photo by PPI

KARACHI: Residents of Karachi suffered a sleepless night and remained without electricity for half of the day on Sunday due to a massive power breakdown that hit almost the entire city, exposing the ill-maintained transmission and distribution (T&D) network of the privatised Karachi Electric Supply Company.

While a fault hit the KESC system on Saturday evening and the rectification process started on Sunday morning, the power supply could not be restored fully till Sunday afternoon in the city.

A KESC spokesperson blamed the power breakdown on “unexpected tripping” of high transmission circuits leading to the tripping of 132KV transmission lines as well as tripping of different grid stations that caused a power crisis which further intensified after tripping of the Jamshoro transmission line due to which over 650MW supply to the city was suspended.

A large number of KESC consumers called newspaper offices to register their grievances and miseries owing to the power disruptions.

A banker from Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Wahid Bakhsh, called to say that power supply to his area was suspended at around 8.30pm on Saturday and was restored at around 3pm on Sunday.

Kamran Khan, a student from Shah Faisal Colony, called to say that his area remained without electricity from 8pm on Saturday to 11am on Sunday. Again, the power supply went off at 12noon and came on at 3pm.

Mohammad Arman, a teacher from Federal B Area, said that power supply to his area went off at 8.30pm on Saturday and resumed at 10.30am on Sunday morning.

A social worker from Korangi Crossing, Lala Rafique, said his area had been without electricity from 8pm Saturday and the power supply came on at 10.30am on Sunday afternoon.

Shaaban Ali, a shopkeeper from Gulshan-i-Hadeed, said that his area had been without power supply from 8pm on Saturday to 10am on Sunday. Calling from Shadman Town in North Karachi, Mohammad Zaheer said that his area had been without power for over seven hours and then power supply went off again from 1pm to 4pm.

A resident of Old Golimar, Zahid Baloch, said that the one of the oldest parts of the city had been without power supply from 5am to 10am on Sunday.

Calling from Gulistan-i-Jauher, Muhammad Akhtar said his area had been without power supply from early Sunday morning to 11am.

Responding to Dawn queries, KESC spokesman Adil Murtaza said that the utility was able to control the unexpected tripping of its EHT circuits.

He said that at around 8.30pm on Saturday, two of the KESC’s 220KV EHT circuits tripped, which caused a domino effect, tripping three of its 132KV transmission lines. The complex tripping had a cascading effect, which in turn led to the automatic tripping of about 35 to 40 per cent of the grid stations supplying power to the city.

He said the KESC assured its customers that a thorough review would be conducted to prevent any such recurrence in the future.

He said the tripping on the EHT circuits was brought about by the consistently high levels of stagnant humidity on the outskirts of the city where these transmission lines were located. In the early morning, the Jamshoro transmission line also tripped, leading to the suspension of the 650MW from the NTDC, he added.

The spokesperson claimed that the special task teams of the utility were mobilised immediately, a state of emergency was declared and all essential personnel were called on duty to contain the situation, which became possible by the early hours of Sunday morning with a majority of the areas powered up. “And by noon the entire network was normalized,” he said.

“Unfortunately, during this period of crisis some unscrupulous elements of society committed thefts at a number of sub-stations, stealing expensive equipment like bus bars, grips and panels. This has led to isolated consumer issues which are being addressed on war footing.”