Load-shedding: Parts of Karachi plunge into darkness again

Published: May 27, 2013
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As Saddar faces power cuts, some shopkeepers have to use small generators to light their shops at night. PHOTO: MOHAMMAD NOMAN/EXPRESS

As Saddar faces power cuts, some shopkeepers have to use small generators to light their shops at night. PHOTO: MOHAMMAD NOMAN/EXPRESS

KARACHI: Karachi – once referred to by some as ‘the city of lights’ – has lately been swathed in a blanket of darkness because of power cuts.

As the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) struggles to meet demand, it has pointed fingers at the Sui Southern Gas Company, claiming that a “massive reduction” in gas supply has led to the surge in load-shedding in the city.

The power utility’s spokesperson, Ahmed Faraz, claimed that the natural gas supply to the organisation has been cut down to around 100 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd). Last May, it had been receiving around 220 mmcfd, which is still less than what it needs to run all its power plants – around 276 mmcfd.

Faraz went on to explain that this shortfall has altered the way the power utility decides which neighbourhoods to cut power from and for how long. The formula the utility uses is a fairly simple one: localities have been divided into four categories based on the estimated amount of power theft that occurs in them. It cuts power for up to nine hours in localities where power theft is high, around seven hours where it is categorised as ‘medium’ and four hours where it is low. In areas where power thefts are deemed insignificant by the utility, there are no power outages.

But due to the recent shortage of gas, Faraz claimed this formula has been set aside and power is being cut to even those areas where electricity theft is low. “This is being done not to cause further inconvenience to localities which are already facing up to nine hours of load-shedding.”

Inayatullah Ismail, an SSGC spokesperson, however, said that the power utility was at fault for the trouble Karachi has faced as the organisation has defaulted by Rs48 billion and is failing to give any definite schedule for payback.

Performance woes

But there are some areas of Karachi where power outages have reportedly been lasting for more than nine hours a day. Some residents still feel they are being “collectively punished” because some people choose to steal electricity.

Sadia Mahmood, a resident of Scheme 33, a locality which previously faced nine to 10 hours of load-shedding during the day, said the power cuts can now last for up to 14 hours. She felt the power utility should announce how much load-shedding is being conducted in different localities on the grounds of power theft. “Making it public knowledge will definitely urge residents to help identify culprits for their collective good,” she said. “Our area is not a slum where the menace of power theft cannot be eradicated. If the KESC wills, all of Scheme 33 can easily be swept for kundas [illegal connections].”

Khursheed Zehra, a resident of North Nazimabad’s Block P, claimed that resident of Umer Farooq colony were involved in power thefts because of which the neighbouring Hussain DeSilva town were meted with collective punishment for about 12 hours. “Why don’t KESC officials clear all those illegal connections in that specific area?”

Several residential areas located adjacent to industrial areas also felt ‘punished’ as they claim power outages there last for up to 14 hours. Nasreen Akhtar, a resident of Federal B Area Block 21, said, “Earlier load-shedding was restricted to eight hours. For the last two months, however, there is no specific time-period for power outages and at times we bear 14 hours without electricity.”

Published in The Express Tribune, May 27th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • Danish
    May 27, 2013 - 2:16AM

    This is the punishment from the Punjab owned New Government to treat Karachi as a step son.

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  • Xnain
    May 27, 2013 - 11:33AM

    @Danish:
    Only after 6 hours of load-shedding Karachiets have started to make hue and cry. Do visit Punjab to enjoy 22 hours of load-shedding complemented by 45+ Temperatures.

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  • Ghufran
    May 27, 2013 - 1:35PM

    I can not believe the bigotry that is seen in some media reports. It is an ordinary occurrence for shops in Lahore to use generators thru out the day. Why is it when Lahore can bear 18-22 hours of load shedding and live does the paper show that 14 hours of load shedding for Karachi as a great injustice. Explain to me how this report does justice to the rest of Pakistan where the people are suffering more load shedding in hotter temperatures for longer times. @ Tribune staff

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  • Libra
    May 27, 2013 - 2:04PM

    There is no point that if Punjab is facing hardship then Karachi must also face. Load shedding must now end in Punjab and all over the country. This has been too much now. If there is circular debt problem then to-be prime minister must seek immediate financial assistance from friendly countries as they do for their allile tallile.

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  • Umar Khan
    May 27, 2013 - 2:16PM

    @Danish:
    9 hours of load shedding in Karachi where electricity theft is highest. We in Lahore are facing more than 16 hours of load shedding with a temperature of more than 45C. So, please don’t spread bias. As per criteria described above load shedding on our area should not be more than 4 hours.

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  • Ali S
    May 28, 2013 - 3:24PM

    It’s a matter of time before residents take matters into the own hands and start rioting and burning settlements that are known to steal electricity – that is, of course, assuming that KESC’s word is reliable. In most areas of Karachi, it’s an open secret where most power theft occurs (like the one the North Nazimabad resident mentioned).

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