HESCO privatisation sought

Outages, corruption, and rising tariffs drive calls for outsourcing

GOHAR ALI KHAN June 25, 2024
The business leaders condemned NEPRA’s recent decision to increase electricity tariffs from July 1. photo: file


Hyderabad business leaders have called for outsourcing the loss-making Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (Hesco), citing its failure to properly supply electricity to both commercial and domestic consumers due to ineptitude and corruption.

They stated that consumers face around eight to ten hours of load shedding, compounded by frequent faults, including low and high voltage issues, burning of pole-mounted transformers (PMTs), and poor infrastructure of the distribution company (Disco).

They added that, in addition to the scheduled load shedding, there are four to five hours of outages under the pretext of maintenance or fault. Pseudo-detection bills are issued to consumers to cover up power theft by Hesco staff.

President of the Hyderabad Chamber of Small Traders and Small Industry, Muhammad Farooq Shaikhani said, “I am going to write a letter to the federal government to privatise this loss-making utility so that customers may get some relief. The technical staff of the company have retired, and the non-technical staff who have been inducted are shirking work and delaying fault repairs in this boiling heat. I must call for a high-powered probe into the substandard materials purchased by Hesco over the past ten years.”

He stated that both domestic and commercial consumers are fed up with the poor efficiency of the utility. There are 639 units in the Hyderabad Site area, where more than 50% have shut down, and many of the running units are planning to relocate their industry to Punjab, which offers facilities including revamped road infrastructure, cheaper land, and fewer bureaucratic machinations.

Adeel Siddiqui, President of the Hyderabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI), said that if Hesco does not mend its ways, revamp its infrastructure, remove corrupt staff, especially unionists, and ensure uninterrupted power supply to factories, markets, bazaars, and shopping malls, privatising it is the best option to give relief to consumers. He said the chamber keeps advising the Disco, but it is of little avail. He noted that the chamber has asked Hesco officers to form a dispute resolution committee to address overbilling and fake detection bills and detect real power thieves, but this is still being delayed to hide the thieves, as the staff are involved in power theft.

He said the Hesco staff are responsible for increasing line losses but are shutting down electricity in the sweltering heat to reduce power losses. “The markets are open from 12 pm to 8 pm, with four hours of scheduled load shedding and another two hours of outages under the pretext of fault or emergency shutdown. How can retailers work, earn, and cover the expenses of shops, staff, and utility bills?” he asked.

Meanwhile, business leaders said frequent shutdowns are also causing an acute shortage of water in the areas. They condemned the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA)’s recent decision to increase electricity tariffs from July 1. Fixed charges for commercial and industrial customers have been hiked by 300% and 355%, respectively. They described this initiative as an unbearable burden on the public amid an already dire economic situation.


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