Sindh Governor Ishratul Ebad Khan has set July 25 as the deadline for resolving all outstanding issues between the management of the Karachi Electric Supply Company and its sacked employees, and will fly to Dubai to negotiate directly with the company’s owners: Abraaj Capital, a private equity firm.
On Thursday evening, the governor met union officials representing the sacked employees as well as members of the KESC management in a bid to end the 89-days protests that have disrupted maintenance of the of the city’s power infrastructure. He promised the unions and the management that the issue would be resolved by July 25.
The KESC’s sacked workers, meanwhile, have agreed to end their protests around the KESC headquarters, though they will simply move their sit-in to the vicinity of the Governor’s house in Karachi.
In negotiations with the company’s management, however, the governor encountered a new problem: KESC executives claimed that, since they have already eliminated the posts that existed for the sacked workers, reinstating them would require approval from their board of directors, which in turn requires consent from the company’s owners: Abraaj Capital.
Abraaj is a Dubai-based private equity firm and one of the largest in the world, with over $6 billion in assets under management. Its chief executive officer is Arif Naqvi, a Pakistani chartered accountant from Karachi, though its primary investors are wealthy individuals from the Persian Gulf region.
Yet the KESC management was reassured enough by the governor to announce that they would renew field operations in Karachi. KESC executives are expected to meet with government officials again on Friday (today).
The central coordination committee of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has condemned the attacks on KESC installations, saying that the “damage to KESC property was a conspiracy against the people of Karachi.”
The prolonged power outages in Karachi have had another side effect: the city’s water pumps have not been able to supply enough water into the system, leading to water shortages.
Karachi Water and Sewerage Board’s (KWSB) Chief Engineer Electrical and Mechanical Zaheer Abbas Zaidi said that the power supply at key pumping stations has improved but the water distribution network has been badly disturbed due to power outages.
The KESC said that there was a heavy reduction in gas supply to its power generation units from the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) and that the utility did not have the funds to procure furnace oil, its alternative fuel source.
An SSGC spokesman told The Express Tribune that the gas company would be able to increase its supplies to KESC by July 23.
However, a Pakistan State Oil spokesman told The Express Tribune that despite the fact that the KESC had Rs9.4 billion in outstanding liabilities, PSO has continued to supply furnace oil to the utility.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2011.
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