KARACHI: Consumers in Karachi were at the receiving end of a bitter row between K-Electric and Sui Southern Gas Company, bearing close to 10 hours of loadshedding as demand for power surged in the wake of a heatwave in the country’s largest city.
The issue prompted the provincial chief minister to write a letter to the prime minister as he expressed his inability to resolve the issue between the two entities, while consumers remained in the dark over who to blame for the power crisis.
Close to 2.5 million households were affected as the power outage took its toll on Karachi’s citizens with K-Electric and SSGC trading blows over the issue.
The integrated power company, which is on its way of seeing a change in management after becoming a profitable entity, holds Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) responsible for the fiasco. The gas company, however, says its dues need to be cleared for seamless supply. It says the amount stands at Rs79 billion.
Power supply takes a hit due to reduced gas
The blame game continued for the third day on Saturday. While the temperature slightly dropped to 40-41.5 degrees Celsius, but suffering continued.
Consumers are still facing rampant unannounced "load-shedding of over 10 hours a day”, according to Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah.
He invited attention of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi towards the suffering of consumers.
"I would like to invite your (PM Abbasi) kind attention towards sudden reduction of natural gas supply to K-Electric in recent days," CM Sindh Shah said in the letter.
“According to K-Electric, it is receiving only 90 mmcfd gas which is insufficient to optimally run gas-based power plants that require at least 190 mmcfd.
Karachi swelters as K-Electric, SSCG trade blame
"The result is shortfall of further 500 megawatts in addition to the existing shortage of 400 MW. The unfortunate situation is happening when Karachi is in the grip of an unusually severe heat wave. KE consequently has resorted to more than 10 hours of load shedding across the city including the industry," he said.
"This may also have serious implications on the law and order situation in the city," he warned.
"I, therefore, request you to please direct SSGC to act in accordance with the ECC’s decision and take a holistic view of the situation rather than reducing gas supply to the biggest power utility company," he said.
The fiasco occurs at a time when Pakistan has decided to issue the National Security Certificate to Shanghai Electric Power in its bid to buy a majority stake in K-Electric, removing one of two barriers that stopped the multi-billion dollar ($1.77 billion) deal from moving ahead for the last one-and-a-half years.