KESC VS INDUSTRIALISTS

Yet another phase of the talks between representatives of the industry and the KESC which is going on is expected to be more interesting.

By AZAM ALI
Aug 16 - 22, 2004

The Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) management has surrendered its irrational steps for charging the industrialists for shifting the meters outside of the premises.

In fact, the withdrawal of the KESC from its unjust demand of charging the consumers was the result of a lengthy discussions with the representatives of the industrial zones who had out-rightly rejected the bills sent by the KESC for recovery of the expenses.

This decision of withdrawal was taken after the SITE Association of Industries took up the matter in aggressive manners. Earlier, the Associations of Korangi, Landhi and F. B. Area had accepted the KESC demand to pay the cost of meter shifting which was estimated at Rs60,000 to be paid by every unit.

Yet another phase of the talks between representatives of the industry and the KESC which is going on is expected to be more interesting.

Industry sources disclosed that they have chalked out an action plan against poor performance and various issues related to the quality of service would be taken up during next session.

Informed sources disclosed that KESC's Unit No-4, of Korangi Thermal Power Station is out of order since July 2004, which had resulted a shortfall of 90 MW in the generation capacity. Since than not only the industrial units but all domestic consumers were facing the agony of load shedding in the torturous summer heat but KESC did not bother to take the consumers into confidence by disclosing the closure of the Unit No. 4 of Korangi Thermal Power Station.

It may be mentioned that Unit-4 was creating problems for a long time but KESC did not initiated steps for the replacement of the bad unit or an essential task otherwise. The closure of one transformer was not disclosed even in the meeting of Board of Investment recently held at the Governor House. This lethargic negligence on the part of the KESC is serious matter especially when the KESC is being paid a huge fund worth Rs. 13 billion for the restructuring and rehabilitation of transmission, distribution and the generation system of the corporation.

Another serious matter which is being taken to task is the "five percent commission to the KESC officials" from the amount recovered through power theft detection. The KESC principal information officer confirmed that five per cent amount was being given to the officials at every level from the amount recovered through power theft. However, he said that the decision of giving five per cent commission amount was according to the decision approved by the KESC board members. But he said that amount can not be told as that depends on case to case basis and KESC finance division do not have any separate detail of the commission amount. It may be mentioned here that power theft was a top priority point in the KESC for which KESC was given under the management of Pakistan Army.

Detecting power theft is the main task of KESC management to reduce deficits. But till today, KESC has not declared a single part of Karachi as, "Area without power theft".

Industrialists said that a corporation with 48 per cent of losses could never run for long term, the losses at every level including transmission and distribution losses, power theft etc are there as they were from the day when KESC management was given to Army. The issue of spending Rs. 13 billion grant from Federal Government has a Pandora Box. Not a single task was completed with concrete steps.

And without any doubt that could be said that KESC wasted Rs 13 billion which were double than the amount on which United Bank was sold.

Another very interesting issue would also become under hot debate as in many cases KESC has started again shifting meters into the premises from outside for the safety or other proposes. The domestic consumers again will have to pay the charges for this.

Another serious matter is coming up regarding not repairing or replacing the faulty and old transformers of KESC, which immediately need an urgent attention. This may cause further crisis to the domestic, commercial and industrial consumers.

Dispute over installation of new meters may land the KESC management into deep crisis, as there are general complaints that the newly-installed meters are much faster as against the normal meters. Although the KESC claims that these meters can be testified by the mobile meter testing teams, yet the consumers have their serious concerns that these mobile teams are hired by the KESC itself. The meter testing process should be carried out by an impartial inspection company having the trust of the consumers as well.

The matter is going to be taken up in the near future by the commercial, industrial and domestic consumers jointly. The KESC could not establish worthiness of the newly-installed meters which are affecting more than five million consumers through inflated speed in Karachi.

The matter was dealt in a low profile so far but sources said that the issue might plunge KESC into the deep crisis in near future. Details collected from the consumers revealed that in many cases new meters were changed only within few days when they were found fast.

The provision for providing power connection on fixed charges which may be described as official Kunda is yet another gray area which has opened doors for power theft at a massive scale under the garb of fixed charges. It is learnt that those who were provided official Kunda at fixed charges are operating as a power terminal and selling power in the neighborhood and thus are minting money at the cost of the genuine consumers who are forced to pay exorbitant power charges to cover the losses on account of power theft. The KESC officials generally give a lame excuse for providing official kunda that KESC has brought illegal consumers into the domain of consumers who are paying the bill. But it is a fact that these official kundas are not given to every Tom and Harry. It is given only those who have the guts to please the officials having authority to sanction the official Kunda.

It is strongly recommended that instead of providing official Kunda, the KESC should provide meters if the corporation was really serious to plug the leakage in its own fold.