As if prolonged outages weren’t enough, people’s power woes have been further compounded by the malfunctioning of electricity transformers.
According to residents of villages in Saidu Sharif, Gul Kada 1, Barama, Ningowali, Battai Khwaza Khela, and Qamber - the most populous areas of Swat - they are facing up to 18 hours of power outages in their areas. Moreover, when the supply is resumed for the brief amount of time, their transformers break down.
“We have been left in complete darkness,” said Anwar Ali Khan, a resident of Battai Khwaza Khela, where a number of public service offices, such as that of the National Database and Registration Authority and Benazir Income Support Programme, are established. He said that people of his area have time and again requested the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) to replace their transformer, but their pleas have always fallen on deaf ears. “The last time the transformer broke down, we did not have electricity for days,” he added.
Khan alleged that the problem exists because some influential persons in his area have illegally gotten electricity connections from two separate transformers so that they face less outage. However, when electricity is accidently supplied to both transformers, one of the transformers gets damaged due to short-circuiting.
The main transformer in Ningolai village of Kabal teshil has been out of order for the last 15 days and has not been repaired or replaced despite repeated complaints by the residents to Wapda officials. “We don’t know where to go and whose door to knock; these outages are making us go out of our minds,” said one villager.
Around 400 houses in Barama village, located close to Mingora, are facing the same issue. Locals said that when Wapda authorities did no pay heed to their demands to replace the faulty 200KV transformer installed in the village, they sought help from their representative in the provincial assembly. They said the MPA “promised” them to resolve the issue, but the transformer has not been replaced.
“We have requested [the Wapda authorities], insisted them and even protested to have our issue resolved, but nothing has worked. We just don’t know what to do now,” said Amjad Ali, a resident of the area.
In Saidu Sharif, locals said they spent the past two days without electricity because their transformer broke down. “Thousands of people have been left in darkness in the month of Ramazan,” said the area’s former nazim, Khalid Mahmood. He said that the main transformer installed in Saidu Sharif is unable to cope with the power needs of the area’s rapidly increasing population, adding that request for a larger transformer for the area was approved a year ago. However, the transformer has not been replaced, he added.
Locals of Sharif Abad said that Wapda officials collected Rs28,000 from them to replace their transformer but the issue has not been addressed so far.
Residents of all affected areas warned Wapda and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government that if their power woes are not addressed, they will be compelled to take “extreme steps”.
None of the officials of Wapda office in Mingora were willing to comment on the issue.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2012.