K-Electric, which is Karachi's sole electricity supplier, seems to have a new modus operandi for what it claims is load management: power cuts in the name of maintenance.
This new wave of electricity crisis has resulted in city-wide protests. A violent 24-hour massive protest at Mauripur due to continuous load-shedding resulted in a total traffic gridlock in the area.
Traffic police said residents of Shah Faisal Colony No. 2 protested against power outages in the wee hours of Tuesday. More protests were held at Future Morr, Daak Khana Bus Stop, Abul Hassan Ispahani Road, Daud Pota Road, Essa Nagri, 8000 Road and other areas.
Despite all this, KE kept mum on the unannounced power cuts being carried out for indefinite periods. Their Twitter feed that is otherwise very responsive also stayed silent on the issue that caused a city-wide menace. However, they managed a brief response at 9:45pm on Tuesday.
'Maintenance' power cuts
Arsalan Ali, North Karachi Sector 11-A resident, shared how their area was devoid of electricity in the name of maintenance for the fourth time in June. 'On other days, when there's no maintenance activity, we still face daily load-shedding four times a day. How does KE justify this?'
A resident of Hub River Road, Naval Colony, District Keamari, had tweeted on Sunday that KE continues to disrupt their power supply for hours in the name of maintenance. 'There's unannounced load-shedding for eight hours, then routine power outages and then power disruption in the name of maintenance.'
He lamented that due to unannounced power outages, he has to go in to work without getting a chance to iron his clothes, and for taking a bath, he has to go to a relative's house.
'There was a power outage at 5am and it lasted until 1pm. It didn't take a minute before another power outage hit after that,' he said, and explained that when he contacted the helpline, he was told there was a problem with their load-shedding timings and other power cuts.
Muhammad Burhan, Gulistan-e-Jauhar Block 18 resident, said that their scheduled power outage time is from 1am to 2:30am. He said that since the past one week, there is a power outage beyond 2:30am until 4am in the name of maintenance. 'We are intrigued what kind of maintenance they carry out daily after 2:30am.'
Muhammad Ameen, Ayesha Manzil resident, shared how they face almost consecutive power outages for up to 12 hours in the name of maintenance. 'This is separate from the announced and unannounced load-shedding. We simply don't get power in our area.'
Areas such as North Karachi, Surjani Town, Keamari, Shadman Town, Buffer Zone, Nazimabad, North Nazimabad, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Lyari, Saddar, Malir, Landhi, Korangi, DHA, Clifton, Boat Basin, Ibrahim Hyderi, II Chundrigar Road and Shah Faisal Town are suffering a severe power crisis.
The violent Mauripur protest ended after a day when KE and the protesting residents reached an agreement. Over 150 trucks and heavy traffic from the port were at a standstill due to the massive demonstration.
District South Deputy Commissioner Abdul Sattar said the residents called off their protest after negotiations with KE and the authorities. He said that a few residents had earlier refused to negotiate and decided to continue protesting, which resulted in a massive traffic jam for 24 hours.
KE said in a statement that during the past 24 hours, the average power supply to Karachi has been 2,700 MW, including an average of 1,000 MW received from the national grid.
'Due to the rise in temperature, the power demand has also surged, because of which the power shortfall, which used to be 250 to 300 MW on an average, has risen to an average of 400 to 500 MW.
'Furthermore, because of the shortage of fuel for power generation and a steep rise in its prices on a global scale, power production is also adversely affected.
'Moreover, due to some payable issues, the utility is confronting challenges in the procurement of fuel. Currently, KE is using all available resources for power generation, and is constantly in touch with the relevant stakeholders for the availability of fuel in the required quantity.'