Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) President Mian Abrar Ahmed has announced that industrialists would resume their protest if the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) did not end the 12-hour power outages immediately.
“We expected an end to loadshedding from Monday but it did not materialise. We expect the situation to improve in a day or two, but if it does not, we will resume our protest against KESC,” he said, while talking to the media at the KCCI office on Monday.
Three major stakeholders – KESC, KCCI and Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) – met with Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad at the Governor’s House on Saturday and reached an agreement on future gas load management in Sindh.
According to the agreement, KESC will immediately end power outages in the industrial areas of Sindh, if SSGC starts supplying 180 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) of gas to KESC, up by 60 mmcfd from the present 120 mmcfd.
On the other hand, KESC has committed to pay Rs2 billion to SSGC on Tuesday (today) out of the outstanding amount that has soared above Rs34 billion. Earlier, the rift between the industrialists and the power supplier deepened on Friday when KESC threatened that it would cut power supply to any industry that failed to pay electricity bill within the deadline.
Seven industrial associations comprising 17,000 members have been protesting against 12-hour outages for a week and have threatened to stop paying electricity bills if prolonged loadshedding continued.
Energy crisis in Sindh has worsened as different industries want to grab maximum share of the cheap gas, while SSGC is trying to manage the limited supplies to industries and domestic consumers.
Talking to The Express Tribune, a KESC spokesperson said that SSGC needs to increase gas supply to 180 mmcfd, otherwise, the power utility cannot end loadshedding in industrial areas of Karachi.
Meanwhile, an SSGC spokesperson said that KESC should first pay Rs2 billion from the outstanding amount because the gas company is facing cash crunch.
SSGC has also planned to reduce gas supply to fertiliser plants and work on a plan for two-day closure of CNG stations to divert gas to KESC.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 29th, 2011.
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