Karachi power outages

THERE appears to be no immediate solution in sight to the suffering of Karachites as the power outages in the country’s financial hub is turning into a major pre-election issue between the federal and Sindh governments. The people of Karachi had pinned high expectations on the emergency meeting held between NEPRA, Power Division and K-Electric on Friday that it will ultimately be able to reach some sort of consensus to address the issue of power outages but regrettably it failed to do so rather it led to further complications of issues.
The federal government took a public stance on the gas supply dispute between K-Electric (KE) and Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) and said the authorities could not succumb to the blackmailing of the former utility. Power Minister Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari categorically said that matters could not move forward on the issue of enhanced gas supply to KE without payment, or an agreement on mechanism for payment, of Rs 80 billion receivables. He lambasted Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah for “politicizing the crisis” by calling upon political parties in his province to jointly hold a sit-in outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Islamabad. For his part, Sindh’s Chief Minister went a step further and threatened to “raise the issue forcefully in the Council of Common Interests and National Economic Council next week and not to participate in discussions on other issues. This is unfortunate and deplorable that the people of Karachi continue to endure hours long outages due to power shortage but the authorities at the Centre and the province are engaged in pointing fingers on each other instead of finding a solution to the crisis which is also vital given the upcoming summer season during which the provincial capital over the last few years has seen many deaths due to heat-wave. So instead of doing politics, the relevant authorities including the Sindh Government, Petroleum Division, SSGC and K-Electric need to sit together again and settle the issue of payment at the earliest. We will also ask Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to personally take notice of the situation and visit Karachi and hold talks with the stakeholders to find a permanent solution of the matter. Indeed K-electric needs to put its own house in order and fulfil its obligations under the agreement to avert such a situation which badly affects the routine life of people.

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