Governor Sindh Imran Ismail on Saturday took to task K-Electric chief Moonis Abdullah Alvi over the power utility’s failure to guarantee uninterrupted supply of electricity to Karachi and end the prolonged loadshedding that has caused misery to citizens over the past few weeks.
Ismail held a meeting with the KE chief, as well as power minister Omar Ayub, through video link.
“K-electric is responsible for uninterrupted power supply in Karachi,” said the governor. “No negligence can be tolerated in this.”
“K-Electric claimed it will end unannounced load shedding in 48 hours,” Ismail said, adding: “It has not fulfilled its claim.”
Ayub said 800MW power is being given to KE instead of 650MW and that the power utility was also being provided gas up to 280 MMCFD instead of 190 MMCFD,.
“There is no shortage of furnace oil supply to K-Electric,” said the power minister.
Ayub instructed the KE chief to “ensure timely redressal of grievances of consumers”.
KE’s letter to the governor
Earlier, it was reported that the power utility, in a letter to the governor, had said it is ready to talk about the investment made in the past years and plans for the future.
“City’s issues, illegal connections (kundas), illegal street lights and damage to cables will be discussed,” according to the letter’s contents.
“Work on the 900MW power plant has been going on since last year,” said the letter. “The first unit of the power plant will start functioning in 2021,” it added.
“K-Electric will also brief the governor on its preparations for the upcoming rains,” the letter said.
Furthermore, a notification by the utility said that KE wants to present a $2bn investment plan and that over the next three years it aims to strengthen Karachi’s power infrastructure.
“Investment will be made in production, transmission, and distribution,” said KE.
Lawmakers demand past 10 years’ details
Meanwhile, in a session of the Sindh Assembly, anger was expressed over K-Electric’s performance.
The members of the assembly insisted that the electricity tariff not be increased till KE’s performance improves.
“Loadshedding is being carried out for three hours even in exempted areas,” the members complained.
“K-Electric has failed miserably in the suburbs,” they added.
The lawmakers demanded that KE give details of its profits and investments over the past 10 years. “They have not fulfilled a single promise made in the past decade.”
They also demanded the the control of the utility be handed over to National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra).
Protest demonstration at KPC
With no respite seen in the city’s burgeoning problems, a protest demonstration was held today against the city’s water and electricity problems outside Karachi Press Club (KPC).
President Karachi Traders Union Atiq Mir and MQM-P’s Farooq Sattar also participated in the demonstration.
“A city paying Rs3,000 billion in taxes is deprived of electricity and water,” said Sattar.
“A bill of Rs15,000 is sent to the house of a person earning Rs18,000.”
He said that PPP and MQM “have decided to clean the city’s drains with money from Asian Development Bank”, referring to the choked drain problem the city faces each year which exacerbates rain flooding during the monsoon.
“If the chief minister cannot pay taxes to the federation, then we will not pay taxes without water and electricity,” he declared.
Sattar remarked that leading industrialist Siraj Qasim Teli, has called for Karachi to be turned into a separate administrative unit, highlighting the deep-rooted issues that persistently go unaddressed by both federal and provincial governments.
“We do not accept an increase in electricity prices,” said Sattar. “Karachi is witnessing an economic murder. We will now have to ramp up the scale of our protest.”
‘Economy destroyed to save an institution’
Separately, reacting to the hike in the power tariff, former president Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry Zubair Motiwala said the prices were raised retroactively over a decision made in an Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) meeting nine months ago.
“They should have kept the ground realities in mind while deciding on the new tariff,” he said.
“The fall in prices of petroleum products was bound to bring down the prices of electricity,” Motiwala said.
He said that a Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (Pepra) meeting on new electricity rates had been postponed.
The former KCCI president said that the government on the one hand talks about reducing production costs and then goes ahead and enacts such measures.
Motiwala questioned talk of increasing exports with an increased production cost.
“The country’s economy is being destroyed to save an institution,” he remarked.
“K-Electric is making cheap electricity from furnace oil,” he said.
“Will additional bills be refunded to consumers in the future?” Motiwala asked.