Residents of Old Sukkur were compelled to take to the streets as they suffered in the sweltering heat without electricity for more than 11 hours on Friday.
Sukkur Electric Power Company (Sepco) personnel took as many as 11 hours to repair a fault that would usually take barely two hours to be fixed. According to an official requesting anonymity, officials deliberately delay the repair of faults to make up for the losses incurred due to power theft, he said.
The problem began with the repeated tripping of the Shalimar feeder of the Old Sukkur subdivision early on Friday. After tripping for dozens of times, the feeder was shut down at around 11:45am. The residents thought that the feeder has been shut only 15 minutes ahead of its scheduled load-shedding time, as the feeder is closed for two hours from 12 noon to 2pm every day. What irked them was that the power supply was not restored even after 2pm.
The residents tried to contact the sub-divisional officer (SDO) and other relevant authorities but to no avail. Losing their cool by the time the skies dusked, hundreds of residents gathered outside the office of the Old Sukkur sub-division situated on Minara Road. They blocked the road, suspending traffic between Rohri and Sukkur, shouting slogans against the officials.
Police officials reached the site and asked the protesters to end the blockade. However, the protestors refused to disperse until the restoration of electricity. Eventually, power was restored at around 10:30pm and the protest was called off.
What had happened
Unnamed sources at the site’s grid station said that power supply to the Shalimar feeder was suspended because an 11-kilovolt high tension cable had busted. He added that the problem was persistent since yesterday morning and that the SDO had been informed about it well in time. However, the SDO could not make time to redress the issue. At around 11:45am, the cable busted and power supply was suspended to the Shalimar feeder.
According to the official, operation staff did not show up until 4pm. To add to the misery, they forgot to bring the piece of cable to replace the busted one. It took another five hours to get that cable. Had they brought the cable well in time, the fault would have been repaired within two hours, he added.
Another source requesting anonymity told The Express Tribune that it is a common practice of the Sepco officials to delay the repair of faulty lines. Citing the example of Friday’s cable busting, he said that that particular fault would have taken two to three hours to repair, but they procrastinated for 11 hours.
Sources further claimed that almost all the feeders of Sukkur are overloaded and the reason is illegal connections provided by the Sepco officials for as low as Rs300 per month.
Meanwhile, Rohri division operations executive engineer Mir Shaikh and Old Sukkur SDO Israr Bajkani were not available for comments.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2014.