KESC has no choice but to resort to load shedding

June 11 - 17, 2007

The Supreme Court of Pakistan as well as the Sindh High Court are entertaining two separate writ petitions moved on behalf of the power consumers seeking justification for frequent load-shedding by the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) without any prior notice.

Currently, KESC has no choice but to resort to load shedding three times a day with a rotational duration from one and half hours to two hours in different parts of the city with a view to economize the available power stuff to meet the city demand estimated at 2400mw a day. However, in certain areas the duration for load shedding spanned over 8 to 12 hours, which is certainly a painful experience especially in the face of torturous summer heat.

Apparently, the major reason for power breakdowns and load shedding is attributed to the shortfall in power generation as well as vulnerable distribution network, which is not strong enough to sustainable increasing load demand.


However, apart from shortage of power and weak distribution network of the KESC, there is something more than what meets the eyes. In fact, the problem of shortfall is not so acute as after putting together all resources from WAPDA 750mw, and around 240mw from two IPPs Gul Ahmed and Tapal Energy operation within KESC licensed area, and 50mw from KANUPP etc. besides 1250mw from KESC'S own units, the shortfall is not more than 150-200mw which is easily manageable. The KESC is installing a gas turbine unit of 220mw at Korangi for which a groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled on June 16, while another unit 550mw was also in the pipeline. Besides these two units which would add around 750mw into KESC network, a 600 mw nuclear power plant called KANUPP-II, one 80mw DHA Co-Generation plant is also about to come in October this year. These incoming projects are bound to ease the situation in the days to come; it's a matter of time only.


In fact, the actual problem lies somewhere else and it is related to good governance within the KESC. According to informed sources, a good strength of workforce within the KESC has been turned into a crop of unwilling workers on the back of some poor administrative steps. These unwilling workers adding fuel to the fire with an attitude of non-cooperation. At present half of the 18000 workforce in KESC is on contract and they feel insecure as their future is hanging in balance without a formalised HR policy. The staff attached to 118 which is supposed to attend telephonic complaints did not pay heed to ringing telephones endlessly just to express their protest over the decision of the management to outsource 118 to a private call center.

Meanwhile, the fact that lucrative salaries, ranging from Rs3 lakh to Rs11 lakh/monthly, are being offered to new hired staff at higher positions is also causing concern among the senior staff of the utility. Sources said that the senior most engineers is being paid Rs50, 000/- as against the salary of Rs3 lakh being paid to GM HR and even more to other newly hired staff. This sort of disparity in the absence of any HR policy is the main source of concern among a large number of KESC staff.

Despite a promise for a new HR policy made in December 2006 that management was fully aware that motivated and satisfied human resource is the key to success for an organization. Within that spirit, the management had announced that a revised HR policy, with an attractive and competitive remuneration package has been prepared to reward the retain the experienced and dedicated team members. It was also announced that management was introducing additional reward system based on objectively measured performance for all different activity areas of organization so that those who met the challenges must get an appropriate reward. At that time management had also said that this system will encourage healthy competition for the growth of organization as well as corporation will be able to serve its valued consumers in a better way. The management had promised that before March 31, a revised HR policy and package will be announced with the approval of the Board and it will be effective from January 2007.

Contrary to these promises, HR policy is awaited till to-date while hiring new people at a much lucrative salaries, in a way creating a sense of deprivation among the existing staff that is naturally unhappy over the situation, sources said.

On the generation side, the new management had also promised to enhance its power generation capacity by setting up more units to overcome the gap between demand supply and to cater to growing need of electricity at the rate of 8 percent a year. According to plans of the new management, they were supposed to put a new unit into operation by April 2007, but promise also remains a promise so far, which indicates a lack of interest of the new management in the development of the utility on sound footings.

Recently, KESC has sought a loan of $150million from Asian Development Bank (ADB) to increase its power supply and coverage for this electricity starved industrial city of Karachi. Karachi has long been struggling with an energy crisis and it's 16 million plus population has to contend with frequent power outages.


ADB's loan will go towards the corporation's $809 million capital investment program. The balance of funding will come from shareholders, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and local commercial banks.

This investment is supposed to increase electricity generation by more than 785 mw, from about 1500mw today, as well as improving the utility's transmission and distribution network and its commercial systems and customer responsiveness.

The capital injection is essential to improve the utility's ability to provide a quality service to Karachi said Robert Bestani, Director General of ADB's Private Sector Operations Department, who signed the loan agreement with the utility.

With the economy rapidly expanding, demand for power in Karachi is increasing well above the national average and this trend is set to continue, putting further pressure on an already strained power sector, not just in Karachi but countrywide.

KESC has an exclusive license to supply electricity to Karachi and surrounding areas, but suffered from years of under investment and poor maintenance before it was privatized. Surprisingly, the governments in the past put a cap on capacity expansion in KESC for over a decade, which consequently resulted in creating a big gap between demand and supply. What was the wisdom in putting a cap on expansion in power generation is best known to the then governments who in a way criminally neglected the basic need of the economy and the people of this so called metropolitan city.

The needs of the newly privatized entity are huge and the turnaround must be achieved very quickly if this high profile privatization is to be judged a success and the needs of Karachi's citizens met, said Michael Barrow ADB Principal investment Specialist.

Rehabilitation and upgrade will also help the power company become more energy efficient, KESC is currently losing more than 34 percent of generated electricity and it aims to cut this to 17 percent by 2012. It will also lead to the installation of new, energy efficient power generation plants.


Karachi Nuclear Power Plan (KANUPP) was set up in early days of Pakistan and initiated by Ayub Khan regime. This important project has already come to age and has lost its vigor as it remains under service for most of the year. In the face of fast growth in demand for power there is an urgent need for a bigger nuclear plant exclusively for Karachi as the conventional source of power generation may hardly over come the widening gap between demand and supply.

Keeping in view the acute shortage of power, the government is believed to have chalked a long-term plan to increase nuclear power generation capacity to about 8,800mw by 2030. In this respect, the government has also identified 6 sites in the first phase for setting up more nuclear power plants while the funds have also been approved for feasibility studies of these sites for setting up nuclear power plants. These sites are located at

Qadirabad-Balloki link canal near Qadirabad headwork, another at Dera Ghazi Khan canal near Taunsa Barrage, the third one at Taunsa Punjnad canal near Multan, another at Nara canal near Sukkur, fifth one at Pat Feedar canal near Guddu and the sixth at Kabul river near Nowshera, while the site for KANUPP II will the same of the first one ideal in the close vicinity of Arabian sea. Actually, Pakistan was forced to develop its own uranium resource program in the face of unfriendly attitude of the developed world in supply the fuel for nuclear power generation. In this context, a fund worth $600 million has already been allocated for exploration of mineral resources especially uranium to develop the fuel for nuclear power stations. Actually, it is the will, which helps to find the way, and this would prove a success in the case of Pakistan also Inshallah.