KARACHI: Recent attacks on Karachi Electric Supply Company’s (KESC) personnel and offices has prompted the power company to close and shift their Billing Operations Center (BOC) Shamsi in Shah Faisal Colony.
On Wednesday, KESC spokesperson Aminur Rahman said that KESC has repeatedly made official requests to the Sindh Police for more protection. But recent incidents of violence, including arson and other attacks on KESC personnel and property was evidence that the police has done little to protect the power utility provider.
“This is not a small thing; we came to this decision after much deliberation and decided to shift the BOC staff to operate from an office near to the area [Shah Faisal],” Rahman said.
“Certain areas are high tension areas for our employees and it becomes hard for our employees to work in such areas.”
However, maintenance and repair work in the BOC Shamsi area will still continue and will not be affected by the closure, the KESC official maintained while appealing to the government to provide more security for the company, its property and workers.
Speaking about the attacks against KESC, Rahman said that the latest incident involved “drunk armed hooligans” taking the company’s field staff hostage at gunpoint and physically abusing them. They even questioned the staff about their ethnicity.
However, the hostages and their belongings were released after local leaders intervened.
The jury though is still out on whether there is a concerted violent campaign against the company and its employees. Three KESC workers were murdered in different parts of the city in the past week alone, but motives behind the killings were unclear.
“We cannot say with certainty why the people have been killed. It’s hard to pinpoint whether there is personal enmity involved or some ethnic issue behind it,” the official said before speaking about the recent murder of a high ranking company official.
“Syed Ali Imran Jafri, who was a Director General (DG)m was killed during his travel, so it is very hard to do anything about that.”
Rahman added that the KESC has deputed security for personnel and teams that work in ‘high tension’ areas but said it was impossible to deploy security with each employee, especially when they are targeted on their way to and from work.
In another incident a KESC truck driver was targeted and another man was shot dead when he was still inside his office.
“We have asked the police officially for more security since we are a utility provider and these incidents affect consumers, if teams are being targeted they won’t be able to do their work properly,” says Rahman adding that, “the police don’t refuse us any help and tell us that they will look into it.”
In violence stricken Karachi, the police is an already stretched force so it was unlikely that security for KESC is going to be beefed up but the company feels that it is more vulnerable since they are cracking down hard on defaulters and electricity theft. Regular threats, Rahman says, is a proof of this vulnerability.
When asked whether any other centers or offices may be closed down, Rahman said that none have come under discussion as yet, but if the violence continues unabated, it was likely that others could close down. This, however, is not going to help during KESC’s peak season.
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