With the K-Electric's recovery drive against free-loaders in full swing, citizens in various parts of Karachi took to the streets on Wednesday to protest what they claimed long hours of unannounced load-shedding.
On Tuesday night, residents of Liaquatabad, Gharibabad and their adjoining areas blocked the main Liaquatabad underpass, burning tyres and pelting stones at passing vehicles.
"We have been deprived of electricity since the past two days," one of the protesters claimed. "Despite several complaints, none of the K-Electric staff have come to restore power."
He added that the residents had settled their dues around three months ago and had been regularly paying their bills since. The power utility did not, however, remove the area from the list of areas that recorded high losses and the residents were forced to brave eight hours of load-shedding every day.
The utility had even disconnected the PMT that supplied power to the houses, claimed another protester. "They should reconnect the supply as the scorching heat and water crisis have made lives unbearable for us," he lamented.
The areas where power outages continue to present a major problem are North Nazimabad, Surjani Town, Korangi, Landhi, Orangi Town, Baldia, Manghopir, Liaquatabad and Gharibabad. There were unconfirmed reports regarding at least 40 feeders that have been shut down due to overloading, leaving many of the areas plunged into darkness.
For his part, the K-Electric spokesperson maintained that the power utility had not shut down its feeders voluntarily. The feeders had developed faults due to overloading.
On the other hand, the areas which have reported very high losses due to non-payment of bills are being affected by longer hours of load-shedding, he said. He claimed that the utility, since the start of the campaign, had 56 per cent of the city exempted from load-shedding. These areas include Clifton and those coming under the Defence Housing Authority.
"The K-Electric is not a charity," said the spokesperson. "People should pay their bills if they want uninterrupted power supply."
He added that the power outages did not affect the whole area as the utility staff was disconnecting the specific PMTs that recorded higher losses. "If the people agree to pay the dues through installments, the PMTs will be reconnected with the feeders."
Other vulnerable areas
In districts South and East, some of the PMTs at Nelum Colony, Dehli Colony, Chandio village, Hijrat Colony, parts of Lyari, Agra Taj colony, Korangi, Lashari Goth and Sultanabad have been earmarked for high losses. The spokesperson said that the residents had been warned to pay their bills within the stipulated time, after which the power supply would be discontinued in these areas.
Meanwhile, the deputy managing director of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB), Najmi Alam, said that since the Hub dam was not supplying water to Karachi, the city was dependent on water supply from the KWSB's pumping stations at Dhabiji, Pipiri and Gharo. "If the K-Electric stops conducting load shedding at our power stations, there will be no shortage of water in Karachi," he claimed.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2014.
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