ISLAMABAD: MQM-P lawmakers on Thursday staged a walkout from the National Assembly’s budget session in protest against prolonged power outages in Karachi and Hyderabad.
Speaking on a point of order, MQM-P MNA Usama Qadri said K-Electric and the Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco) had added to miseries of the citizens amid the coronavirus pandemic by repeatedly suspending power supply for several hours.
"The government is imposing a 'smart lockdown' and asking people to stay home, while the KE and Hesco are forcing people to come out on the streets,” he added.
"Hyderabad is witnessing temperatures as high as 40 degrees Celsius and its citizens are on the roads protesting against Hesco."
The lawmaker said whenever the issue was raised with Energy Minister Omar Ayub, he would express his helplessness saying that KE was a private entity.
"The KE has destroyed Karachi's infrastructure. It says it is not getting furnace oil. Where is the government? Where will the 30 million people of Karachi and Hyderabad go if the government can't control a company?"
Qadri added that the KE was also overcharging consumers. "Over the government's failure to provide relief to the people of Karachi, we are staging a walkout," he said.
After the walkout, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser referred the matter to the concerned committee.
The KE on Thursday attributed the prolonged power outages in the metropolis to a shortage of furnace oil.
In a statement, the power utility said that peak demand had crossed 3,450 megawatt because of the hot and humid weather in the city.
"Furnace oil is not available in the market to the level required, resulting in up to 800MT shortfall daily. This has been in the news and the government is taking action by allowing imports,” it maintained.
"Also, a reduction of 50 mmcfd in regasified liquefied natural gas (RLNG) by the Sui Southern Gas Company has further added to the challenge."
The KE further claimed that along with these factors, power from the wind corridor had also been affected, resulting in the reduction of the company’s power supply from 3,150MW to 2,800MW.
It said that the government had decided to import furnace oil and the situation was "likely to normalise" in the coming days.
A day earlier, the power utility said "violent mobs" had caused damage to KE's grid station and offices.
"This endangers our teams and makes our job more difficult. We are working 24/7 to supply maximum power despite ongoing fuel shortage. Please bear with us at this challenging time."
The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) has taken notice of the complaints regarding continuing unannounced power outages in Karachi and directed the power utility to submit a detailed report.
In a statement, Nepra also noted that inflated electricity bills were being charged to consumers. "Strict directions have been given to K-Electric to take remedial measures and submit a detailed report to Nepra immediately."
Many took to the streets in Karachi on Wednesday to protest the power outages, blocking main roads and highways to bring the issue to the attention of the relevant authorities.
The protesters said that power outages were also triggering a water crisis, adding to the burden on the common man.
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