Overheated: Power outages continue to try consumers’ patience

Alternative sources for electricity inflate bills for domestic consumers, businesses.


Hasan Bokhari July 17, 2014

ISLAMABAD: In the scorching summer months, load-shedding continues to test everyone’s patience to the hilt, with power outages ranging from six to eight hours a day in the more developed sectors and from 12 to 14 in the outskirts.

Despite numerous promises made by the government, the monster of load-shedding has still not been dealt with.

A shopkeeper in Sector F-7’s Jinnah Super Market, Rizwan Aziz, said they were comparatively better off than people in other sectors but complained that load-shedding caused a lot of food stored in fridges and freezers to go to waste.

Samiya Mahir, a resident of Sector F-8, stated that load-shedding increased the cost of living as her family often has to use generators, UPS, and other power-generating systems as an alternative source of electricity.

A UPS system with a battery can be purchased in the market for Rs14,000 to Rs16,000, whereas the price of a generator varies according to its size and power, but both are expensive alternatives.

Shafaq Malik, a resident of Sector E-11, described power outages as unbearable and unfair. The government has time and again disappointed the public by not living up to its promises, she said. “The number of hours without electricity often surpasses those with power,” she said.

One of the sectors most affected by power outages is the information and technology industry (IT). Saeed Khawaja, an employee at Digital Processing Services at the Software Technology Park, described IT as a 24-hour industry where clients expect 24-hour availability of services.

The IT industry is comparatively more vulnerable as businesses are required to provide services like digital subscriber line (dsl) internet and are heavily dependent on servers for their operations, which rely on electricity. Power outages are forcing firms to increase costs by investing in back-up power supplies such as UPS and generators, he said. “Higher costs make it difficult to compete with firms in other countries where power shortages are not so great an issue, such as India and Vietnam.”

Even if a firm invests in UPS and the like, many of these back-up sources cannot sustain the load of running all the equipment, such as servers and their cooling fans for an extended period of time, he stated. The only solution, he argued, was continuous, uninterrupted power supply.

Fatima Nasir, who works at Mobilink, said unsaved work was usually lost when power outages occurred. “The work chain breaks and slows down computer systems. Sometimes we have to restart the entire operating system,” she added. “Generators do not provide a constant and steady source of supply, which is a necessity in big organisations.”

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Omer Atif, a junior contractor involved in the metro bus project, states that their work remains unaffected by power shortages as large generators are used to operate machinery the whole time. However, smaller construction projects are often slowed down by power shortages and take much longer to complete, he added. “The cost of using generators is very high, especially as petrol and diesel are a lot more expensive to use now.”

Hashim, a student who recently completed his A levels and is now preparing for admission tests, said he was often forced to change his study hours because of unscheduled load-shedding. “The load-shedding schedule announced by the government is often not followed.”

Ammad, a student of Bahria University, stated that the heavy consumption caused by air conditioners and other electrical appliances increased power deficit in the country, leading to a rise in unscheduled load-shedding. The only solution, according to him, is rationalisation of electricity consumption.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2014.

COMMENTS (3)

shireen | 7 years ago | Reply

An excellent article that truly portrays our country's pathetic energy crisis.

Kehkishan Khalid | 7 years ago | Reply Well written article!
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