While hours long unscheduled load-shedding continued unabated all over the country forcing the people throng the roads to resend the inhuman act of the Wapda authorities specially during the holy month of Ramzan, the situation has gone beyond the endurance of the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who are even getting unruly to record their protests.
The situation turned worse on Monday when at least one person was killed and many others sustained serious injuries after the law enforcers opened fire on protestors who stormed into Wapda office in Malakand to express their serious resentment over power outrage spanning over 10 to 14 hours in their areas.
This sparked further anger among the demonstrators, who then turned their fury towards the authorities and burnt down the nearby police station. In the ongoing clashes, an assistant commissioner was also injured.
“A demonstrator was gunned down and four others sustained serious injuries when Levies officials opened firing at anti-load-shedding protesters who stormed into the office of Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) in Dargai area of Malakand Division to resent power outage”. Local officials said adding a big protest demonstration turned violent as the protesters set fire to furniture and computer in the office of WAPDA. A PESCO spokesperson however, claimed that the protesters also burnt records stored in the office of the executive engineer and sub-divisional officers.
In fact, like other parts of the country the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province specially the provincial metropolis has been in the grip of violent protest demonstrations against the unscheduled and unannounced long hours of power outage as not a day passes by when agitated consumers do not come to the roads and attack Wapda installations in one city or the other and clash with the Police.
In Peshawar the infuriated power consumers of the suburban areas have for the last week or so been recording their protests and went violent so many times when they attacked various grid stations in the outskirts of the city. They did not only force their way in to the electricity installations but also switched the button on to restore the electricity.
So much so that a large protest procession led by the PTI Member National Assembly Ayesha Gulalai some days back had stormed into Pesco headquarters and later staged sit in to demand end to the hours long power outage. They were later dispersed after the assurance of the Pesco authorities that no unscheduled load shedding will be carried out, but in vain.
Likewise protesters led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) MPA Fazal Elahi staged a demonstration on Peshawar’s Ring Road and blocked the traffic for almost two hours. Similar kind of protest was also staged in Umarzai area of Charsadda where the protesters blocked the Tangi-Charsadda Road and other cities of the province. Hardly a few days back the much agitated demonstrators led by another PTI MPA have also stormed into a Grid station and themselves restored the power supply.
What irks most the agitators is the false promises of the Pesco authorities to resolve the issue and mitigate their sufferings as there is no improvement in the situation and there are areas where the load-shedding duration is even more than twelve hours thus forcing the residents throng the streets again and again and even getting violent.
In fact even the Pesco Authorities may not be blamed as they are helpless ( as an insider confided to Observer), because the load-shedding or what the WAPDA authorities term as Load-management, is carried out from the National Grid without any information to the local authorities only causing them embracement before the consumers.
The State Minister for Power Abid Sher Ali and Prime Minister’s advisor Amir Muqam call the media to the Pesco headquarters almost every week and make tall claims to overcome the situation, yet their rhetoric always proved mere lip service.
We feel that those at the helm of WAPDA affairs must realize the situation and effectively respond to the genuine demands of the power consumers and come up with the solid solutions instead of making tall claims every day and holding one another responsible for the power crisis in the country. They must stop testing the patience of the masses especially in the holy month of Ramzan before it is too late. Getting violent while recording protest and taking law in your hands has never been advisable, but then, there a is limit to masses endurance.