KARACHI: Karachi woke up to much-awaited rainfall on Monday morning. The joy was, however, short-lived as people in several areas across the city realised there was no power.
This turned out to be a blessing for some too, for where there was power, five persons were electrocuted to death. Such was the bitter-sweet experience of Karachiites with the first showers of the winter season.
While on the one hand, the rainfall brought the mercury down by a few degrees, making the weather even more pleasant, commuters had to contend with overflowing roads and traffic jams.
At least five people were killed in rain-related incidents in the city on Monday. All victims died of electrocution.
The victims include 23-year-old Rahim Shah, son of Ameer Alam, who died due to electric shock at Jubilee Furniture Market within the limits of Nabi Bux police station. According to police officials, he was electrocuted to death after coming in contact with an electricity pole.
Another victim, 18-year-old Danish, son of Ghulam Moiuddin, was killed when he came in contact with an electricity pole in North Nazimabad. Wajahat Ali, 26, died of electrocution while he was doing electrical work inside a house in Bijli Nagar, Orangi Town. Asif, 20, was killed when he received an electric shock from an electric water cooler at a factory in SITE area.
Meanwhile, a four-year-old girl died of electrocution in Korangi No. 5. The victim's family claimed that the child, Amal, was killed when she came in contact with a broken wire.
While some flocked to the beach and other picnic points to enjoy the rain, others were left stranded in streets that had turned into little ponds in no time. All the civic authorities' claims of having cleared the storm water drains and adequate arrangements for the rainy season were thrown out the window as citizens appeared hapless in the face of the after-effects of the downpour.
This, despite the fact that the Pakistan Meteorological Department had predicted light showers in the metropolis at least 48 hours earlier. The local government and other civic agencies, however, failed to make adequate arrangements.
The rain water that accumulated on the roads soon caused traffic gridlocks in several parts of the city. Some of the major jams were witnessed at Shahrae Faisal, National Stadium, Hassan Square, Liaquatabad number 10, Lyari Expressway, Nagan Chowrangi, 2-minute Chowrangi, Old City area, Saddar, MA Jinnah Road, Korangi Expressway, Korangi Crossing and several lanes of Gulshan-e-Iqbal area. Rainwater also accumulated at the entrance and exits of underpasses, including Drigh Road, Liaquatabad, Clifton and Ghareebabad.
According to the Met Office, Gulistan-e-Jauhar and its surrounding areas received 38 millimetres of rain, Landhi 31mm, Jinnah International Airport received 15mm, Shahrae Faisal and Mauripur areas 12mm, Gulshan-e-Hadid and Nazimabad 10mm and North Karachi recorded 6.5mm of rain.
The PMD's Senior Meteorologist Rashid Ahmed has said that another spell is expected on January 29 and 30 due to low air pressure in the coming days.
Rest of Sindh
The winter season's first showers descended upon Sindh starting Sunday night and entailing a power breakdown across the regions of Hyderabad and Sukkur power distribution companies. Light to moderate downpour intermittently continued through Monday with the PMD recording the highest rainfall of 17mm in Noshehro Feroze district by 6pm.
The rainfall also brought a drop in the mercury, with Mirpurkhas recording as low as 7 degree celsius. However, the prolonged power cuts by Hyderabad Electric Supply Company and Sukkur Electric Power Company compounded problems of the people.
In Hyderabad, where the blackout began at around 1am on Monday, a large number of areas reported water shortage. The HESCO's spokesman Sadiq Kubar maintained that most of the feeders were shut for safety purposes. But some other officials claimed that faults in the transmission system were the cause.
In Hyderabad district alone, 62 out of around 80 feeders were shut, according to the spokesman. Kubar, however, cannot explain why the HESCO's transmission system was so fragile that it could not even sustain low rainfall.
The breakdown, which began past midnight, lasted through the afternoon and in many parts of Hyderabad, till night. The areas where the power supply was restored complained about recurrent outages.
The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) condemned HESCO for failing to restore the electric supply even after 18 hours of the shutdown in most parts of Hyderabad.
"The performance of HESCO's management is zero," said MNAs Sabir Hussain Qaimkhani in a statement on Monday. They demanded the federal government to hold the officials of HESCO accountable and conduct an inquiry.
The Pakistan Peoples Party's spokesman Ahsan Abro also condemned the company's failure to maintain electric supply during rain. He blamed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf's government for its alleged discrimination with Sindh as one of the reasons for the poor performance of HESCO.
Similar complaints of excessively prolonged power outages were reported from other districts of Hyderabad division as well as from the districts of Mirpurkhas and Nawabshah divisions.
An official of the National Transmission and Dispatch Company informed that the national grid continued the supply power to HESCO, clarifying that there was no halt in the supply to the power distribution company.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd, 2019.
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