JI Karachi head recites long charge-sheet against K-E

Accuses power utility of overbilling, charging illegal meter rent and making poor investments


Our Correspondent April 02, 2018
The JI will hold sit-ins at 50 different locations around the city on Friday, April 6. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/FILE

KARACHI: Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Karachi Amir Hafiz Naeemur Rehman has announced massive protests against unscheduled power disruptions in the city by K-Electric (K-E). The JI will hold sit-ins at 50 different locations around the city on Friday, April 6, whereas a major protest will also be held in the Red Zone on April 20.

During a public gathering in Nursery on Sharae Faisal, the JI leader demanded that names of K-E's top management must be added to the Exit Control List. He also asked the chief justice of Pakistan to take notice of the load-shedding in the city.

Rehman asked the authorities to suspend the privatisation of K-E. He demanded that the Federal Investigation Agency and National Accountability Bureau conduct inquiries into various allegations regarding the company's privatisation. "The authorities must ensure that K-E repays the Rs200 billion owed to different organisations and Rs100 billion pocketed from consumers," he said.

The public gathering was also attended by other JI leaders, including Muhammad Ishaq Khan, Muslim Pervez, Dr Usama Razi, JI Karachi Secretary Abdul Wahab, Public Aid Committee Chairperson Advocate Saifuddin, Najeeb Ayubi and others.

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Rehman claimed that the JI's long campaign against K-E's oppression had created awareness among the residents of Karachi. "K-E is now blaming a shortage of gas [for load-shedding] even though the SSGC [Sui Southern Gas Company] was providing sufficient gas to the company without any contract," he said, alleging that K-E had suspended power production from the furnace oil plant in Bin Qasim because of increasing expenses.

K-E wanted more gas from the SSGC despite Rs80 billion dues, he asserted. The JI leader also bemoaned the fact that Karachi's residents were deprived of water due to prolonged power suspension. "The public is facing a double menace," he said. He criticised the Pakistan Peoples Party for not properly managing the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board.

The JI was supporting the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor because it would bring economic prosperity to the country, he said. However, he added that those in power were trying to fool people in the name of Chinese investments. "They are conspiring to increase power tariffs by selling the power company to Shanghai Electric," he said, adding that the party would not accept increased tariffs.

The JI leader came down hard on the load-shedding schedules introduced by K-E and blamed incompetence, corruption and profiteering of the power utility for power outages. "Over 3,300 megawatts (MW) of electricity can be produced at the production plants owned by K-E," he claimed, stating that the production was enough for the present demand of 2,600MW.

"Units 3 and 4 of the Bin Qasim station have been shut down by K-E for the past four years," the JI Karachi chief said, adding that the power utility's move to suspend power production  due to shifting of its plant to thermal energy was totally against the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority's (Nepra) rules.

"If K-E does not mend its ways, Nepra can impose heavy fines on it and also revoke its licence," he warned, adding that the power company failed to sign a general sales agreement with the SSGC, even after instructions from Nepra in 2009.  "K-E owes over Rs80 billion in dues to the SSGC while it does not wait a moment to slap late payment surcharges on consumers who fail to pay their bills on time."

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Rehman recalled that K-E did not stop load-shedding even during the 2015 heatwave in Karachi in which thousands of citizens died. Nepra had imposed a fine of Rs10 million on the power utility for its negligence and deliberate production cuts during the scorching summer season, he said.

He lamented that K-E performed worse after privatisation than the state-owned Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) did. "In 2005, the state-owned KESC had produced 9.3 billion units of electricity while in 2015, [after privatisation] the production remained stuck at 9.32 billion units," the JI Karachi chief said. He added that it was surprising that the power utility was making profits in billions despite stagnant production and the absence of full recovery.

He attributed abnormal profits of the organisation to higher tariffs, forward billing, bogus charges for fuel-adjustment, faulty meters and over Rs200 billion in dues owed. Rehman demanded that a judicial commission be formed to investigate K-E's affairs, including its privatisation, poor investment, deliberate production cuts, overbilling amounting to Rs62 billion, illegitimate meter rent, double bank charges, faulty meters and non-payment of Rs20 billion owed to the consumers. "Nepra should order K-E to make meter reading snapshots visible on bills so that consumers are not unjustly deprived of their hard-earned money," he demanded.

The JI Karachi chief also admonished the power utility for taking unreasonable stay orders from courts on several of Nepra's decisions. He demanded that privatisation contracts of K-E be made public to ensure transparency. "The authorities should not give clean chit to K-E," he said, "The contract with Shanghai Electric should be made public, while K-E should not be allowed to be sold until it settles the Rs200 billion owed to consumers and public institutions."

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