Hundreds of Pakistanis protest over power cuts

The crowds chanted slogans against the government and blocked roads with stones, bricks and vegetable carts.


Express/afp May 26, 2011

PESHAWAR: Hundreds of Pakistanis took to the streets Thursday to protest against rolling blackouts that paralyse industry and make life unbearable in the searing summer heat.

Police officials estimated that around 1,000 Pakistanis protested in three parts of the northwestern city of Peshawar.

The crowds chanted slogans against the government, blocked roads with stones, bricks and vegetable carts, and set fire to tyres.

"We are fed up with these long power cuts. I go to my grocery store in the morning and keep sweating throughout the day," said Sohail Khan, 27.

People in towns and cities in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa face cuts for 12 to 14 hours a day, while rural areas can receive electricity for as little as four to five hours a day.

"My students often pass out in the classroom because of excessive heat," said local teacher Fazal Ahad.

In Pakistan's biggest city of Karachi, police official Imtiaz Ali said dozens demonstrated in the Landhi neighbourhood, burning tyres and throwing stones at the traffic in their outrage against power utility officials.

Riots to protest against the blackouts are near daily occurrences.

"The worsening supply of power has created a serious law and order situation in the city," said a senior police official who did not want to be named.

"In most cases people set up bonfires and pelt moving vehicles with stones. At times, protesters have attacked the KESC (Karachi Electricity Supply Corporation) offices, damaged the property and beaten up its employees."

Pakistan's crippling energy shortages have been blamed on corruption, short-sightedness, debts, a creaking distribution system and a lack of money or refusal to invest public funds in renewable energy as demand grows.

In China last week, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani called on Chinese firms to invest in his country's energy sector, in a bid to boost a moribund economy hit by massive floods last year and weak Western investment.

Gilani insisted Thursday that the government was taking "all possible measures" to improve power generation.

The government said it was trying to increase investment in renewable emergency resources and would "soon" launch "small, medium and mega size hydro projects in the country to eliminate power shortage in the long run".

Tabish Gauhar, chief executive officer at KESC, called on the government to take the matter into its own hands.

"The government has a responsibility to protect the power supply system, KESC assets and personnel, in order to release the helpless consumers from the misery of prolonged outages because of sabotage and violence," he said.

Massive power shortfall

According to PEPCO, electricity shortfall in the country is more than 24 hundred megawatts.

The majority of Sindh areas, including Hyderababad, Thatta, Nawabshah, Mirpur Khas, Sukkur and Jacobabad, are facing relentless loadshedding of up to 12 hours.

Punjab is not an exception as people in several cities are braving 12 hours of power cuts.

Electricity shortfall has also affected the smooth supply of power in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

COMMENTS (5)

Fed Up Karachiwallah | 10 years ago | Reply @khanum: "We don’t hate anyone. See! We are very tolerant people. Tolerating 14 + hours of load-shedding. What more proof do you need?" I said that already. We won't break up. We are already breaking down. And most of us are in utter denial. Especially the bunch that relies on the semi literate musings that passes for socalled serious journalism in the Urdu media. Don't believe me. Read Aakar Patel's two part analysis of Pakistani media in the Opinion / Pakistan section of this very newspaper.
Aamir | 10 years ago | Reply @Khanum Don't you ever dare to make such a pathetic statement, (inshah ALLAH) Pakistan will never break no matter what. No doubt, we are going thru a very difficult phase but that does not make us a nation of wimps. We are a nation of 180 million people who strive to live peacefully.
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