KARACHI: Elected local bodies representatives, led by Mayor Wasim Akhtar finally took to the streets to protest against the prevailing power cuts in the city outside the K-Electric (K-E) head office in the Sunset Boulevard area on Tuesday.
Akhtar reached the K-E office, along with elected local government representatives at around 11am. He was flanked by District Municipal Corporation (DMC) Korangi Chairperson Nayyar Raza and DMC East Chaieperson Moeed Anwar at a stage placed just outside the K-E office. The road was closed for traffic.
Protesters were held placards with slogans of 'Let Karachi Live', 'Businesses crippled due to load-shedding' and 'K-E needs to mend its ways.'
Almost two years after taking over as the mayor, Akhtar protested against one of the gravest issues of the people of Karachi - power cuts - which on the face of it looks like a bid to strengthen his vote bank.
The archrivals of Akthar's Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) - Pakistan, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Karachi have been regularly campaigning against the increased tariff, overbilling and fuel adjustment charges by K-E for the past one year.
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There is up to seven hours of announced load-shedding in addition to several hours of unannounced load-shedding in different parts of the city. The Karachi Water and Sewage Board (KWSB) is mainly dependent on the K-E for continuation of water supply, due to which, the citizens are also deprived of water.
The worst affected areas are Lyari, Saddar, Bizerta Lines, Kala Pul, Malir, Shah Faisal and Landhi, North Karachi, Nazimabad, North Nazimabad, Gulistan-e-Jauhar and Gulshan-e-Iqbal.
Addressing the protesters, Akhtar said that they are the third tier of the government and almost all the elected representatives of the local government were with them.
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On the other hand, SSGC, on several occasions, has refuted K-E's argument by saying that it has been supplying only 90 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) of gas these days compared to 190mmcfd in the recent past. The reduction in gas supply from the state-owned utility firm is partly seen due to pending dues worth billions of rupees on the K-E.
Reacting to Akhtar's protest, JI's spokesperson, Zahid Askari, said that last year they held several protests against the K-E's injustice to the people of Karachi. "We even blocked Sharae Faisal and our central leadership was arrested," he said, questioning why the mayor had initiated his protest now. The MQM was in power when the K-E was privatised, he said.