TRYING THE PATIENCE OF CONSUMERS

CITIZENS CALL FOR THE GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION.

AMANULLAH BASHAR
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
May 30 - June 5, 20
11

The worst ever power crisis accompanied by unending load shedding of long durations, power breakdowns and unattended faults are trying the patience of the citizens.

Actually, the failure of the KESC in dealing with the issue has shattered the confidence of the citizens into the capacity of the utility to fairly cope with a number of issues right from generating capacity to transmission and distribution to the end users.

The ever increasing power tariffs at least two percent every month becomes more painful when the consumers are not getting the return of the high prices rather they are forced to go through the torturous agony of power failures every day and its side effects such as adversely affected water supplies, economic losses incurred to the commercial and industrial consumers.

WILL LEGAL COVER HELP RESOLVE THE SITUATION?

Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) has sought legal support from the government to deal with the unruly and unwilling workers who are at strike for over a month. The real problem started when the KESC management laid off at least 4000 of surplus workers and in support of the sacked colleagues the workers union not only have called a strike but they are allegedly not allowing the workers to work right now. In fact, the issue is a challenge to the skill of the management to cope with the problem effectively. For over a month, the consumers of this mega city with over 20 million plus population have been thrown into an embarrassing situation, which leaves no option for them but to find out alternative solutions. However the only a handful of the population can afford to avail alternative solutions through self-generation by generators and UPS while 90 per cent of the population are looking helplessly for return of normalcy.

According to Tabish Gauhar, CEO of KESC, the government needs to implement law to contain the sabotaging attempts which are disrupting the distribution system and repair and maintenance work. He however expressed hope that the issues faced by the citizens of Karachi with reference to difficulties in power supply system would be resolved through negotiations and in legal manner.

KESC Chief while asking for legal support to deal with the any workers has pleaded that a handful of hooligans have been trying to make the KESC and the two million power users of the city hostages since May 9, and to some extent they have been successful in their nefarious designs. The negative impact of this situation has directly been disrupting the city life and upsetting the citizens. The government has a responsibility to protect the power supply system, KESC assets and personnel, in order to release the helpless consumers from the misery of prolonged local faults and outages resulting out of sabotage and violence.

Tabish maintained that the issues between the management and employees of the utility could only be resolved either through the ongoing talks or in courts. "We have made it clear to the CBA that our foremost priority is to normalize power supply system in the city as soon as possible. We have also pointed out that in spite of the talks being held between the management and the CBA Union, the violent attacks on KESC offices, harassment of employees and blocking of maintenance mechanism have not yet stopped. The CBA has yet to play its positive role in the best interests of the KESC and its consumers," he stated.

It may be noted that last week, the KESC offices in State Life Building and the Fleet Management Department in Qayyumabad were forcibly vacated by hooligans through threats and pestering and the on-duty employees were pushed out. The saboteurs also damaged OCB Trolley in PECHS affecting local and outgoing power sources, thereby restraining power supply through six substations and 11 PMTs in Block 6.

The Karachi Press Club is completely surrounded by the protesting workers for almost a month. The protesting workers continued to forcefully close all the important offices of KESC to stop the employees from attending to their work. They blocked repair of local faults and forcefully prevented the fixing of neutral leads that could have removed the risk of damage to electrical appliances because of fluctuation. The KESC has demanded of the government to provide a fear free atmosphere to the employees in order to relieve the citizens from undue delays in repair of faults and prolonged outages caused by subversive activities. Action needs to be taken against miscreants who are openly violating laws of the land.

Tabish Gauhar has paid rich tributes to the untiring efforts of the silent majority of employees who continue to work by risking their security in order to provide relief to consumers. He said that these employees are real assets of the utility and the management would always remember their contributions towards the survival of the company in the most difficult times in KESC's history. He said no rules of trade union allowed destruction and sabotage and all the sane elements of the society needed to condemn such negative activities, which had been causing undue hardships for consumers.

CONCLUSION: There is a limit to everything and so is to the KESC-workers conflict. Now is the time for the authorities to intervene and come to aid of the innocent citizens. The consumers are punished due to unresolved dispute between KESC and the workers. The consumers have rightly started to think that Karachi being one of the largest cities deserves at least four power distribution companies having sufficient capacity to deliver. The mega city can be divided into four power zones. That would greatly help not only to the consumers but also to the distribution companies to operate in a management franchise area. The current scenario in Karachi is amazingly contradictory to market mechanism. The city has customers but power company has no capacity to deliver.

The KESC has thanked the citizens of Karachi who have stood by the utility in these trying times - not to bow to the unlawful and illegal pressure being created by the disruptive elements.

The handful of miscreants has been trying to sabotage the company and hijack the power system of the city to serve their personal gains, directly in conflict with the public interest. Meanwhile, the Old Ravians Cooperative Housing Society, in a message, appreciated the efforts and courage of KESC management to deal with the subversive and sabotaging campaign.