Sleepless nights: Back-to-back blackouts trigger protests in Karachi

Published: July 14, 2015
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The protesters blocked many roads with burning tyres and shouted slogans against the government. PHOTO: EXPRESS

The protesters blocked many roads with burning tyres and shouted slogans against the government. PHOTO: EXPRESS

KARACHI: 

As if Saturday night’s massive power breakdown was not enough to test the patience of Karachiites, they were subjected to yet another major blackout in the wee hours of Monday, triggering protests in many neighbourhoods of the city.

The power cut affected Federal B Area, Gulshan, North Karachi, North Nazimabad, Manzoor Colony, Clifton, Defence and other localities.

According to K-Electric Media Manager Taha Siddiqui, the blackout was caused by the tripping of the Bin Qasim Line 1 and 2.

Siddiqui claimed that the power company had restored electricity in approximately 50 per cent of the areas by the early hours of the morning.

He said the entire load is not put on immediately because it takes time for the units to energise one by one.

“The unusual state of power cuts in the city is due to a rise in demand of electricity, which has risen to 3.1 gigawatts, the highest in Karachi’s recorded history.”

Add to this the rise in the level of relative humidity to 99 per cent during the wee hours, which causes a major problem in transmission, he added.

“The transmission wires are running high voltage, which makes them unusually hot.

As the humidity settles on these wires, it raises the wire temperature even further,” explained the KE official.

“Along with this, the dust tends to stick on the wires, taking the texture of clay, because of which the wires trip and transmission is halted, and the excess load is transferred to the feeders.”

Siddiqui said that due to an increase in the number of air conditioners during the first week of Ramazan, possibly because of the heatwave, KE had to deal with an urgent 25 to 28 megawatts of shortfall in a week.

“Load regularisation remains another problem, as people don’t get their meters regularised for excess load. Eventually, it creates problems at our end.”

Meanwhile, to register their protest against the power company, incensed citizens took to the streets in Gulbahar, Shah Faisal Colony, Federal B Area, Liaquatabad, Malir, Korangi, Orangi Town and other parts of the metropolis.

The protesters blocked many roads with burning tyres and shouted slogans against the government. To avoid any untoward incident, law enforcers were deployed in the localities where demonstrations were being held.

The citizens complained that besides the usual six to eight hours of power cuts, breakdowns during the nights have exhausted their patience.

A resident of Nazimabad complained that there was already a shortage of water in his locality. “When it’s time for the water to be supplied to us, a power outage occurs.”

The Sindh government has also taken notice of the frequent blackouts in Karachi. Energy Minister Murad Ali Shah phoned the KE chief executive and expressed disappointment in the power company’s performance.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2015.

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