SUKKUR: The burning issue of gas load-shedding was taken up in the National Assembly on Tuesday and Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz MNA Tahira Aurangzeb even linked the divorce rate to gas load-shedding. Though no such incident has been reported in upper Sindh, heated arguments often take place between husbands and wives over the inevitable delay in meals. In most cities and towns in upper Sindh, gas is cut off at night and in the morning the pressure is so low that it takes 20 minutes to brew a cup of tea.
In Sukkur gas supply is cut off at night and restored at 8am, however, the pressure is very low, often causing schoolchildren and office workers to leave home without having breakfast. Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) officials claim that gas pressure is decreased during off-peak hours to 'discourage theft', which mostly is done in collusion with their staff. Residents, especially women, often protest against the gas load-shedding, because they are the ones who suffer the most.
Similar reports were received from other parts of upper Sindh such as Rohri, Pano Akil, Ghotki, Mirpur Mathelo, Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Kashmore-Kandhkot, Khairpur, Naushero Feroz, Larkana and Qamber-Shahdadkot. Larkana is the only city which has been receiving adequate gas pressure after the over-night cuts. Reports from Jacobabad suggest that the gas pipelines are damaged at many locations due to laying of drains and water supply pipelines but, despite repeated requests and protests, nothing has been done by the SSGC.
In Qamber-Shahdadkot, despite the exploration of gas from the Mazarani Gas Field near Ghaibi Dero, the local residents still have to endure low gas pressure. The Shahree Ittehad has been protesting and staging sit ins and though the SSGC officials assured that their problems would be resolved, nothing has been done.
Similarly, in District Ghotki the Qadirpur Gas Field produces 460 million cubic feet of gas daily but the people living in nearby villages do not even have gas connections. Those that do have connections experience 12 to 18 hours of load-shedding a day. Some residents of villages have to wait days before getting gas.
An SSGC official requesting anonymity said that low gas pressure irks the people because on one hand it takes a long time to prepare meals and, on the other, the low pressure causes the gas meter to run faster than usual. "It is very difficult for us to curb gas theft because the pipelines are laid underground and therefore the only solution is to reduce its pressure during off peak hours," said the official.
SSGC Sukkur general manager Saeed Jumani said he did not know anything about the closure. He claimed that while gas pressure is low during off peak hours, the SSGC ensures full pressure during cooking hours.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 1st, 2016.
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