QUETTA: Farmers in Balochistan observed a province-wide strike against prolonged power cuts on Monday, disrupting traffic on national highways.
Thousands of vehicles were stuck on highways as enraged protesters blocked roads during a strike called by the Zamindar Action Committee. Protesters also staged sit-ins on railway lines. Supplies for Nato forces in Afghanistan were also disrupted as a result of the strike. Chairman of the committee Taj Muhammad Agha warned that if the duration of power outages was not reduced substantially, then more severe steps would be taken.
“There is no electricity for over 20 hours a day throughout Balochistan since the past 21 days, which has destroyed our crops.” “The chief minister gave a deadline to reduce power cuts by last Thursday but it was not fulfilled,” he said, adding that the government should fulfil promises made to the farmers and ensure 15 hours uninterrupted power supply.
The Qesco chief, Shaifiq Khatak, said repair work has been started and it would take approximately a week to restore power supply to the affected areas of the province. “The government was not providing adequate security to Wapda officials which caused delay in repairing damaged electricity pylons,” he added. According to officials, seven power pylons of 220 KV transmission lines were destroyed in the Chattar area of Naseerabad district three weeks ago, disrupting power supply to 40 grid stations in the province.
The strike was observed in Quetta, Mastung, Chaman, Kila Abdullah, Loralai, Chagai, Kalat, Khuzdar, Surab, Kharan, Lasbela, Bolan, Sibi, Barkhan and other parts of the province.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 11th, 2010.