The massive power outage on Tuesday night led to the shutdown of the city’s five pumping stations, bringing water supply to a halt.
The main pumping stations, Dhabeji, Gharo, Pipri, Hub and North-East Karachi, suspended their operations which led to a shortage of 525 million gallons per day (MGD).
All the main sources of water were suspended and it will take three to four days to normalise the gap in water supply, said Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) technical deputy managing director Iftikhar Ahmed. “The water supply that starts from near Kalri Lake takes around 18 hours to reach the city,” he pointed out. “The system has been emptied now and it will take time to build up the pressure again to restore proper supply.”
Dhabeji pumping station has 22 water lines, each of which is 72 inches in diameter, and they provide water to most of the city. “Due to the sudden power cut on Tuesday, one of those lines broke due to the pressure of the water that was pushed back,” he explained, adding that the repairs lasted 15 hours.
“Apart from Dhabeji, Gharo pumping house has 10 pumps and Hub as two pumps that supply water to the West of Karachi, including Orangi, Baldia, Keamari towns and certain areas of Paposh,” he added.
According to KWSB spokesperson Nazir Mateen, the power outage at the pumping stations lasted till 9:50am at Pipri and Gharo pumping stations. “Once electricity supply was restored, Dhabeji pumping station started working and water supply kicked off,” he said. “However, it will take 16 hours for all water lines to function.”
Similarly, Hub and NEK pumping stations faced 12 hours of power breakdown which resulted in a 45MGD shortfall.
Before the power outage, a pump was already out of order at Dhabeji station and that was causing a 10MGD shortfall in the city, Mateen admitted. “The pump is being repaired,” he said, adding that all these factors exacerbated the problem. “KWSB’s sewerage system has also been adversely affected on a large scale,” he added.
Meanwhile, KWSB managing director Hashim Raza Zaidi has appealed to the people of Karachi to not waste water as it will take at least 18 hours for them to restore proper supply.
Unhappy residents, happy shoppers
Many residents were forced to sacrifice on their sleep as the power supply showed no signs of returning on Tuesday night. Preferring to have Sehri outside her home, a Gulshan-e-Iqbal resident Sanjida decided to take her family to KFC. “KFC ran out of food so they had shut down and it was really difficult to find dining space at any other eatery,” she said.
Nazimabad resident Samina Shakir realised there was a power outage at 11pm when she came home from Taraweeh prayers. “I went to sit on the rooftop along with everyone else from my apartments,” she said. “Everyone sat there till Sehri.”
The sea breeze made the weather slightly more bearable but many residents took it as an opportunity to shop for Eid. According to Dolmen Mall Clifton’s customer services representative Shuja Abbas, Tuesday night became Saturday night all of a sudden. “Soon after the power outage, families thronged to the shopping mall and the rush continued till early in the morning,” he said.
Dolmen Mall on Tariq Road was also packed with shoppers which made the management stay open for one more hour. “The usual closing time is 2am but the mall stayed open till 3am last night,” said Arshad Khan, the assistant operations manager at Dolmen Mall, Tariq Road.
Khan said that the number of visitors at the mall is usually 17,000 a day during Ramazan but they had more than 36,000 visitors on Tuesday night.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2015.