KE strikes back

KE has a history of absolving itself of the responsibility regarding any shortcoming in its performance

Editorial August 23, 2019

The residents of Karachi, while continuing to suffer on account of unannounced load-shedding and frequent power breakdowns besides electrocution deaths due to tottering electricity infrastructure, must brace themselves for another shock from the power utility as it seeks to burden its consumers with an additional billing of Rs16.9 billion. K-Electric has approached Nepra with claims that the surge in fuel prices has led to an increase in generation cost which must be passed on to the end-consumers.

Irrespective of what Nepra decides on the K-Electric request, its captive consumers — residential, commercial or industrial — are never willing to buy any explanation or claim from the power utility about its financial health, its generation and distribution, and its service delivery system. It has a history of absolving itself of the responsibility regarding any shortcoming in its performance or obligations to its consumers. It has rather measured swords with almost all institutions, including SSGC, Wapda, KMC, Pakistan Customs, PSO and KWSB, and always managed to have its way. It is a common cliché to refer K-Electric as a state within the state, being accountable neither to the people or its elected representatives nor the executive authority of the government or to judicial pronouncements.

Take the latest issue of over a dozen electrocution deaths in the recent monsoon rains in Karachi. The power utility would dismiss the majority of these victims as deserving this fate for being ‘power thieves’ while belonging to, what it calls, kunda-infested localities. The K-Electric chief, however, believes it was the civic agencies and ‘mafias’ responsible for cable network who must be held accountable for these deaths. Nepra has taken notice of the deaths and has ordered an inquiry to ascertain the failure of the power utility to maintain safety and security measures. But early this month, K-Electric warned the regulatory authority that it would invoke certain sections of Nepra rules to declare ‘force majeure’ — a term meaning that the power utility could not meet its contractual obligations due to circumstances beyond its control. And that would be the end of the story.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2019.

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