KARACHI: Summer has only just begun and power issues throughout the city and beyond are already ruining the lives of the people. It was only when the people of the Baba and Bhit islands came to Karachi to protest against the suspension of power and water supplies in their areas for the past six to 12 days that they got some respite on Tuesday.
According to K-Electric, power was cut off to the islands for non-payment of mounting dues.
Hoping to highlight their power woes, the people of the twin islands sailed up to the main shore to stage a sit-in on the Native Jetty Bridge against the suspension of power supply.
Disrupting traffic flow they caused major traffic jams on Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan Road, Dr Ziauddin Ahmed Road and I.I. Chundrigar Road. Everything came to a standstill on Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan Road through which heavy traffic such as trucks, tankers and containers pass. At a time when there is already too much rush due to people going home after work, Dr Ziauddin Ahmed Road also experienced a complete jam. The situation wasn’t very different on I.I. Chundrigar Road.
“Yes, we are well aware of the trouble our protest caused, blocking the bridge for four hours, but it had to be done, otherwise who listens to us, the poor fishermen,” reasoned Ghulam Ali of Bhit Island.
“After five days without power, our children were miserable, our elderly parents were dying. We went to the K-E office to request them to let us pay the current bill and let us deal with the arrears on instalments,” he said.
“After offering guarantees and assurances, they did restore the power supply, but now we face loadshedding four times a day from which there seems to be no escape,” he said.
Haji Ismail Bhatti, another resident of Bhit Island, said his mother died due to heat stroke after KE cut off the power supply to the area. “No electricity for days amid extreme heat took my 85-year-old mother’s life. She died from a heatstroke,” he complained. “It is hot. Going without power even for a couple of hours will make you miserable and here we were without it for eight days,” he added.
“We paid Rs400,000 and even submitted the copy of our bills with copies of our CNICs but the KE wasn’t satisfied, apparently,” he said. “There are 500 homes in Bhit Island and KE gave us 71 bills, which we paid. But they say there are still Rs190 million to be paid. We have asked them to at least provide us with the details as to who exactly is the defaulter instead of cutting off power to the islands. If we know the defaulters, we will pressure them into paying up, but the KE has yet to give us the details,” he said.
According to KE, they disconnected power of seven pole-mounted transformers in Baba and Bhit Island due to non-payment of dues amounting to Rs190 million. “We sent notices but on getting no response, we disconnected power,” said a KE spokesman, adding that power, however, was restored after receiving assurances and guarantees from some notable and respectable people from the islands.
Power breakdown at JPMC
Several other parts of the city, too, bore the brunt of outages, while the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) remained without electricity for many hours on Monday and Tuesday.
The hospital experienced outage from 7.30pm to midnight on Monday and then again from 5.30am till noon on Tuesday.
According to hospital sources, Ward-5, 6, 7, and 12 along with the eye department suffered the most during the time. They said the JPMC had eight to nine generators but many of them were dysfunctional due to lack of maintenance.
A hospital source informed Dawn that their 1,000kVA generator heated up and had to be shut down for some 45 minutes when Ward No 20 and 28, the casualty department, emergency department and surgical block, where several patients were on ventilators, also suffered. However, the KE responded well by fixing the problem as soon as they could, said the JPMC sources.
According to KE, there was an internal fault at the JPMC.
Reacting to the persistent power issue, Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said the federal government and the KE were inflicting agonising power outages and loadshedding upon the people of Sindh and its capital during the sizzling hot weather. The PPP would take up the issue at all forums and PML-N wouldn’t go scot free for such an inhuman treatment meted out to power consumers, he added.
The PPP chairman, in a statement, said that KE, Hyderabad and Sukkur electric supply companies were targeting the people of both urban and rural areas with unannounced power loadshedding for 16 to 24 hours.
Karachi’s rural areas such as Baba and Bhit and other suburban areas braved the scorching heat without electricity even for 24 hours while the city’s congested areas were also subjected to load-shedding for several hours.
He said the attitude of the federal government and its water and power ministry was deeply discriminatory against the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan, where besides the unbearable and prolonged outages, inflated bills were issued to fleece the people already in economic shambles.
The PPP chairman said it was the worst form of victimisation of the masses and the PML-N government should not forget that it had failed to deliver while subjecting the people to pass the extreme summer without electricity.
Meanwhile, Karachi chief of the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) Engineer Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman criticised the government for its failure in ensuring the provision of electricity to Karachiites, particularly during the summer.
According to a press release issued by the JI, Hafiz Naeem said government officials and political parties both on the treasury benches and in the opposition had been providing support to the KE management. The JI chief said the suspension of electricity to Bhit Shah island for more than two days and the inhuman behaviour of the relevant authorities to the masses was quite unacceptable.
Courtesy : Dawn News