A number of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MPAs, along with hundreds of party activists, protested against K-Electric by staging a sit-in outside its main office in Gizri on Sunday.
Prominent PPP leaders such as Raza Rabbani, Nisar Khuhro, Taj Haider, Sharjeel Memon and Sharmila Faooqui took part in the sit-in, which was also attended by Muttahida Qaumi Movement's (MQM) Khalid Ahmed.
"The crisis is mainly due to the privatisation of the power supply company, which has proven to be the wrong decision," claimed Senator Raza Rabbani. "The private caretakers promised us that they will invest in infrastructure to improve the power distribution system. However, instead of fulfilling their promise, they sacked thousands of company employees and the situation has deteriorated even further."
Senior minister Nisar Khuhro felt that K-Electric's claim that that there will be no load-shedding during the days of Eid is indicative of the fact that they can provide an uninterrupted supply of electricity to the city but instead create an artificial power crisis to earn more revenue.
MQM's Khalid Ahmed agreed and said that the two ruling parties in the province stand side by side to help the people of Sindh against load-shedding.
Protest dismays K-Electric
The power utility has expressed its dismay over the protest outside its office, saying that it is unfortunate that people are protesting against them instead of helping them fight electricity theft and unpaid bills; the main causes of the power crisis.
The utility's spokesperson said that, despite the scarcity of electricity, the city's industrial zones have been exempt from load-shedding for the past five years, adding that Karachi does not suffer from load-shedding as much as the rest of the country.
He also blamed the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority for not approving projects on time, saying that the laidback attitude of the regulatory agency has impacted the people of Karachi. The spokesperson also pointed out that the Sindh government owes the utility Rs40 billion in unpaid bills. "So maybe we should also protest outside Sindh government offices as well."
The twin crises continue
While the protesters shouted slogans against the power utility, the city continued to suffer from the twin crises of water and power.
Most of the city - including areas of Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Saddar, Lyari, Golimar, Defence and North Nazimabad - has been without water and electricity for as much as 20 hours.
Residents complain that no one is responding on the K-Electric complaint lines for the past two days, and in the few occasions that complaints have been registered, they are not being addressed for several days.
The constant breakdowns in power have led to the worst recorded water shortage in the city's history and potable water is becoming increasingly hard to come by. The water board claims it will be a few days before they can overcome the shortage but only if the city does not suffer from another power breakdown.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2014.
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