Load-shedding? What load-shedding?

Published: April 5, 2017

As the temperatures rise everywhere, Pakistan enters the time of year when The Darkness is triggered, the lights go out and government officers talk mindless drivel about how this desperate situation is nobody’s fault and especially not theirs. Now we have Driveller-in-Chief the Minister for Water and Power Khwaja Asif saying on the evening of Monday 3rd April that the load-shedding crisis will be resolved by the end of April due to increased flow of water in the rivers which raise the levels in the reservoirs that are power producers across the country. He forgot to mention that many of those reservoirs operate at less than capacity even when full because they are silted up — a minor detail. The problem is exacerbated by, and prepare for a surprise — a rise in temperatures! In the springtime! This completely unexpected development threw everything into confusion and of course the government is not responsible for the weather.

The minister also cited power-producing units being offline for maintenance — which begs the question as to why they are offline now rather than at a time when demand is lower. They will be online by the end of April and there will be an outbreak of national happiness and rejoicing. Or not.

What is never present in any government briefing regarding load-shedding is a road map. A description in simple terms of how the government is going to go step by step along the road, accompanied by a histogram that illustrates the timeline and which ends at a finite future point where most of the country has electricity for most of the time. Instead we are offered meaningless platitudes wrapped up in equally meaningless figures that explain nothing and least of all how the government plans to clean up the mess it has made. Minimise the drivel, maximise a credible flow of information and do it fast. Tick-tock, tick-tock…the electoral clock is ticking…can you hear it?

Published in The Express Tribune, April 5th, 2017.

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