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Karachi The victim of electricity failure

Kesc has to be self-sufficient in power generation, borrowed power from wapda cannot be relied upon

Apr 02 - 08, 2001

Frequent power breakdowns which have become a regular summer feature over the years in Karachi causing trade and industry losses running in billions of rupees besides loss of investors' confidence due to unreliable infrastructure facilities in this largest city generally called as the commercial capital of this country.

The output of the industrial areas in different parts of the city has reduced substantially due to loss of work hours on account of suspension of power supplies every day.

The pinch of the power failures is more painful in view of inability of the public sector to overcome the power crisis despite having all resources at their disposal. Consequently, even the best economic policies and decisions taken by any governments may go in vain due to ever depleting infrastructure facilities.

On one hand, WAPDA & KESC always demand for increase in electricity charges, the highest in this region publicly admitted by the high ups of the power companies, the quality of power supply continue to worsen, generally during the summer days. The captive consumers have no choice but to suffer the hardships due to breakdowns and load shedding and pay more on the other hand, what a funny situation.

The trade and industry has urged the government to take immediate remedial steps to improve electric supply specially during working hours when maximum industrial commercial activity takes place.

Frequent breakdowns, it may be mentioned, have proved to be a windfall for power generator trade, as the generators have become the most sought after equipment especially in the trade circles.

The price of petrol and diesel generators have registered a 10 to 15 per cent jump over the last few days due to power crisis faced by Karachi. The persistent power crisis has also disturbed the students especially those preparing for their metric exams currently going-on and inters exams scheduled for next month.

The current spell of load shedding or breakdowns is the chronic problem being faced by the people of this city for over a decade. During all these years, the KESC officials have changed their instance many times. In the early years they would say that they were forced to resort to load shedding due to short supply. After induction of private sector for power generation, they said that load shedding is due to depleted transmission system which has come to its age i.e. 30 years of installation. When their attention was drawn towards billions of rupees borrowed for rehabilitation of the transmission and distribution system, they once again shifted from T/D system to shortage of power.

Karachi needs around 17-18 mw of power during peak hours, while the total generation including from two IPPs i.e. Gul Ahmed and Tapal under KESC's licensed area comes to 14-14.5 mw. The short supply of 3.5 mw is not a big deal if one is determined to resolve the problem. A permanent solution to the power crisis has to be found at the earliest because the day in resolving the problem might result in losing the enormous opportunities knocking at the door in the shape of foreign investment especially in the IT sector. An un-interrupted power supply becomes of vital importance when the government as well as the private sector are making collective efforts to develop a strong IT base in Pakistan.

Overwhelming enthusiasm generated by recently concluded ITCN Asia 2001 especially among the youngsters gives a strong signal that the nation has accepted the challenge to make Pakistan an IT power on the world map.

The extra ordinary long queues of the keen visitors, both boys and girls standing under the scorching sun just to have glimpses of the exhibition proves that they have chosen the direction. Those at the helm of affairs are now required to translate their energies and enthusiasm into an effective IT force.

Although the KESC officials had claimed that load shedding had to be accentuated following increase in power demand up to 1775mw, the promise however has yet to be fulfilled. The demand for power had been increasing in the peak hours is estimated at 1775 mw leaving a gap of around 350 mw. Reason for shortfall in supply is stated to be the damage of two transformers located at Jamshoro.

KESC hopes to overcome the problem soon after the replacement of the damaged transformers. Earlier, KESC had given March 28 deadline for partial resumption of power supply from the national grid to Karachi.

Leading electricity consumers in the industrial sector are of the opinion that continuous dependence on WAPDA to meet the shortfall in power generation is something very serious in view of the repeated experience of tripping the WAPDA system in the past. KESC has to develop supply resources within its licensed area to avoid abrupt suspension of power supply borrowed from WAPDA on one account or the other. The beggars cannot be the chooser.