Supreme Court scolds KE, KMC over unpaid arrears

Published: July 25, 2019
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Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhter, KE officials, local government secretary and others appeared before the court. PHOTO: REUTERS

Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhter, KE officials, local government secretary and others appeared before the court. PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: The Supreme Court (SC) directed the Sindh chief secretary on Wednesday to call a meeting on July 25 and resolve the dispute between the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and K-Electric over outstanding arrears. KE has earned as much money as it could and would now take the skin of citizens, remarked the court, while at the same time telling the mayor to switch to lanterns and candles if the municipal body couldn’t afford to pay its bills.

A three-member bench headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed and comprising Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was hearing the case.

Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhter, KE officials, local government secretary and others appeared before the court.

“Why hold the election when they never wanted to give us authority?” asked the mayor. “What’s the point of being the mayor of the city when they haven’t given any authority to me,” he cried out in court. The mayor bewailed that he worked under pressure day and night but did not have the authority to do anything. “They carried out the election only on the orders of the Supreme Court,” he said.

The local government secretary said that there was no other agency more empowered than the KMC if it would actually do the work. “But unfortunately, the mayor and other KMC officials don’t even attend meetings,” he added.

Justice Ahmed expressed annoyance at the secretary’s comments. “He is an elected mayor now. Would you summon him to your office? You should go to himself,” remarked Justice Ahmed.

“I am ready to go to him myself,” said the secretary.

“KE is not a welfare agency. They are not Pakistani’s, they have come here to make money. The power utility has earned as much money as it could and would now take the skins off of citizens’ bodies,” remarked Justice Ahmed.

The mayor said that KE owed the KMC Rs7 billion. “KE should be directed to pay the billions of rupees [it owes] on account of poles, cables and rent,” he prayed the court.

Addressing the KE’s counsel, the court remarked that KE should pay the dues if was going to cut off KMC’s electricity.

“You and your employees use electricity without paying for it,” said Justice Ahmed, addressing the mayor. “You should start using candles and lanterns if you don’t have the money to pay your bills,” he added.

“KE is using our land. It owes us money and yet wants to cut off our electricity connection. What kind of justice is this?” said the mayor.

The Sindh government’s representative informed the court that the provincial government has issued Rs340 million for the payment of KMC’s dues.

The court asked the mayor what purpose his presence served. “You look so satisfied,” said Justice Gulzar while addressing the mayor. “Is it the job of the court to resolve issues of payment and non-payment of bills,” he asked.

The court observed that then perhaps the Sindh chief minister should be asked to find a solution to this problem.

The apex court directed the provincial chief secretary to call a meeting on the issue and directed the mayor and local government and finance secretaries to attend the meeting and find a solution for this issue.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2019.

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