PESHAWAR: The Pesco officials inadvertently rubbed salt in the wounds of protesting power consumers who gathered in their hundreds outside subdivision offices. While the demonstrators covered their heads to get reprieve from the scorching heat, officers of the power utility locked offices for the weekend without bothering to switch off the air-conditioning.
The enraged mob broke window panes and damaged various rooms to protest against prolonged power failures.
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The protestors hailed from Ghari Faizullah, Ghari Baghwanan and Umar Bala. They ransacked the offices of Sikandarpura, Rehmanabad and Nishtar subdivisions, apart from blocking the service lane on main GT Road for over two hours.
Many covered their heads with handkerchiefs to protect themselves from the hot sun and shouted slogans against superintendents and Wapda officials. They also blocked GT Road near Gulbahar for a short while, but local representatives leading the protest asked the other participants to leave it open for traffic.
The angered consumers demanded negotiations with Pesco officials, but all the rooms of the office were locked and nobody appeared for talks. The air-conditioners inside the office were left running.
When asked, a security guard said the officers forgot to switch off their ACs. “These units will now be sucking electricity through till Monday,” said Laiq Shah, a protester. He added the public does not have electricity for even a few minutes and these officials left their air conditioners running even on off days.
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Speaking to The Express Tribune, Faizullah village council nazim Iqbal Hussain claimed there had been no electricity for seven days in an area that was home to over 6,000 people. He slammed the fact that children were left crying in the heat over the last three days. “Many patients were also at home and suffered without electricity,” Hussain said. The nazim added there was also an acute water shortage in the area, compelling locals to fetch the vital commodity from rivers.
He underlined relevant authorities had been asked time and again to resolve the matter, but the officials claimed they could not understand the problem. Hussain added this prompted locals to take to the streets.
Talking about bills, Hussain said consumers were paying their dues on time and there were no line losses in the area. He challenged Pesco teams to find any illegal connections in his area. “We have started a campaign against kunda culture and will never let any consumer use power through illegal means.”
PESCO Spokesperson Shaukat Afzal told The Express Tribune the areas where the protesters hailed from, such as Ghari Faizullah and Ghari Baghwanan, had line losses of 70%. He said that was the reason these consumers faced prolonged outages.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2016.