People tend to get slightly disoriented when the heat takes its toll. Decision-making abilities evaporate, and irrational thought takes over. This is how, perhaps, the crux of the National Assembly proceedings on June 24 can be described, where some opposition parties suggested that the power of distributing electricity be handed over to the government after K-Electric’s failure to meet the bulging demand that has caused prolonged outages amid a killer heatwave in Karachi. What has not been realised is that water shortage — a long pending issue — is also yet to be resolved.
If this was not enough, the Sindh chief minister wrote a letter to the prime minister, urging the federal government to let the province take over Hyderabad’s and Sukkur’s power distribution companies. This demand comes even while the centre is planning to privatise power distribution companies in a bid to make them efficient. At the same time, Sindh is unwilling to take on the liabilities — mainly line losses — and wants the federal government to continue subsidising electricity for five years. What we don’t understand is, why Sindh wants to take over a problem-ridden power sector after years of scathing criticism. A look at most government-run entities will clearly highlight their inefficiency and ineffectiveness. The Pakistan Steel Mill is a bleeding unit, PIA has been in the doldrums for years and even mentioning the names of power distribution companies draws nothing but flak from the public. It is true that K-Electric has been unable to cope with rising demand. The average household is now consuming more electricity than it was before the heatwave struck. The answer lies in improving K-Electric’s performance and investigating its current poor show. The bucket, from where electricity is drawn, is of the same size, while the demand has increased considerably. Solutions to this problem can be found. But one ‘solution’ that would be quite foolish is to let the government take over an entity that has in recent years performed better than most state-run entities.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2015.
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