Editorial
'The crisis is going to get worse before it gets better'. Well, not a kind of news one usually hears from official quarters but is true in the case of Karachi's electricity crisis. KESC officially claims that it might take four to five years before the Corporation can give the city some good news. 

Rate rift
As Wapda and KESC blame each other for their ongoing tussle, consumers continue to suffer
By Aoun Sahi
There is a permanent rift on tariff rates between Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) and KESC since the privatisation of the latter in 2005. With each side accusing the other, it is the consumers both domestic and commercial who suffer the worst power failures.

crisis
Outage and outrage
The gap between demand and supply has increased considerably owing to lesser power generation and poor transmission capabilities. A KESC profile
By M. Waqar Bhatti
The blockage of a significant part of Shahrah-e-Pakistan, from Teen Hatti to Liaquatabad flyover, Karachi's main artery that connects the city to other parts of the country through Super Highway, is a common sight these days. As angry protestors pour out, usually after sunset, they block the road by lighting bonfire and pelting stones on vehicles and passersby. Last week, they even set to fire the motorbike of a UC Nazim belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and a police mobile to vent their frustration. The reason being the erratic power outages and unscheduled, long hours of load-shedding.

'If I fail to meet the targets, I'll leave!'
CEO KESC, Lt Gen (retd) Syed Muhammad Amjad, clears the air
By Saad Hasan
With no addition to power generation in the last decade or so, the private management of the KESC is faced with the uphill task of dealing with the consumers who are frustrated over load-shedding, and the added responsibility of fixing the worn-out utility. In an interview with TNS, Chief Executive Officer KESC Lt Gen (retd) Syed Muhammad Amjad takes on the criticism and the queries with a pinch of salt.

Trading losses
The business community of Karachi questions why the new management of KESC has not invested in its power generation capacity
By Shujauddin Qureshi
The angry traders of Karachi's commercial centre Saddar staged a protest demonstration in front of the KESC head office at Abdullah Haroon Road, on May 10, blocking the main city artery. They set ablaze a vehicle of the utility company to protest against the continuous power closure in the area.

Stealing power
Improved technology should help discourage people from stealing electricity -- a major cause of power shortage
By Farooq Baloch
The electric power theft, say officials, is one of the major reasons for power shortage in the city. Reports reveal that 34 per cent of the total consumption of electricity was illegal last year and caused an annual loss of Rs 800 million to the department. The KESC believes in improving technology in order to discourage people from stealing electricity.

Power of riots
The riots and protests against prolonged power breakdowns and load shedding have persisted, causing serious commotion and disturbance in the city
By Muhammad Azeem Samar
The power corridors in Islamabad and the two houses of Parliament, the Senate and National Assembly, in the federal capital have been visibly shaken by the tremors that emanated from the riots and violent protests against serious electricity supply crises in Karachi. So far the authorities concerned seem helpless against the miserable performance of the power utility in meeting the demand of the city that has been on the rise in the present hot and humid weather.

Break-up of the breakdown
KESC plans to seize losses in two years...
By Saad Hasan
The new management of the Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) is eyeing to break even its revenue and expenditure by year 2009 on the basis of reduced transmission and distribution (T&D) losses. "In the next one year, the utility is planning to cap its T&D losses to 30 per cent from the present 34.5 per cent," Lt-Gen (ret) Syed M. Amjad, the CEO of KESC told TNS.

 


Editorial

'The crisis is going to get worse before it gets better'. Well, not a kind of news one usually hears from official quarters but is true in the case of Karachi's electricity crisis. KESC officially claims that it might take four to five years before the Corporation can give the city some good news. 

Read this as you familiarise with the term 'power riots' in the country's financial hub along with pictures of protestors burning tyres against unprecedented power breakdowns. In their turn, these protests lead to worst traffic jams lasting for hours on end.

Just the right time for a Special Report on Karachi's power crisis. An analysis of KESC, which was privatised to find a lasting solution for this mega city, was inevitable and so were certain other issues the rift between KESC and Wapda, the power thefts that account for thirty per cent of the total losses, the losses incurred by business and industry and an interview with KESC CEO.


Rate rift

  By Aoun Sahi

There is a permanent rift on tariff rates between Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) and KESC since the privatisation of the latter in 2005. With each side accusing the other, it is the consumers both domestic and commercial who suffer the worst power failures.

On April 18 last year, the Chairman Wapda- National Transmission & Dispatch Company (NTDC) Tariq Hamid warned the KESC through a letter (No: C/2006/58 dated April 18), on the same issue. The letter stated: "Through this letter we are requesting you to clear our outstanding dues by Saturday this week i.e.22nd of April 2006. In case of non-payment we will be forced to cut you off from Sunday i.e. 23rd of April. Apparently, you do not attach any importance to our reminders and requests. We cannot tolerate this state of affairs any more." This year too, the chairman Wapda has asked KESC administration on many occasions to make the required payment to the authority.

Wapda spokesman Abid Saeed tells TNS that the authority has no rift with KESC. "The only issue we have with them is that they are not paying our dues while we are providing them 600/700 megawatts of electricity on a daily basis," he says. KESC, he says, is a private company and providing electricity to them is under no agreement Wapda's responsibility. "Still it is supplying electricity to KESC in the national interest." According to a statement of Wapda spokesman published in The News, KESC still has to pay Rs17/18 billion to Wapda.

KESC officials are not ready to buy the statement. "We have cleared all of the outstanding dues to Wapda at the rate of Rs3.69 per kilowatt hours," claims KESC spokesman Sultan Hassan.

The issue according to corporation's management is that Wapda is claiming extra charges from them by raising the power supply tariff unilaterally from Rs3.69 to Rs6 per kilowatt hour (kwh) without providing legitimate reason. "All other power distributing companies throughout the country are being charged Rs.3 to Rs3.3 per kwh and we are not going to pay them extra money as we are already paying them extra Rs0.4 per kwh," says a senior official of KESC on condition of anonymity.

He says that the KESC is a legitimate consumer of the National Transmission & Dispatch Company (NTDC) for the last five years and being supplied power as per demand (230 to 600 MW) on the same rates. "What has happened now? Karachi is also part of the country and the cost of power higher than other cities would not be sustainable for its consumers," he says.

According to the KESC official, the company has already requested government of Pakistan to ask Wapda to charge rational electricity tariffs. "If it is not possible government should provide us subsidy. Otherwise we will have to pass the extra burden on to consumers which will create problems both for us and the government."

Wapda spokesman, Abid Saeed, had no concrete answer when TNS requested him for his version on the KESC claims: "I will brief you about the actual situation in 10 minutes after collecting information from concerned officials." But he was not available in his office to comment, when contacted later.


crisis
Outage and outrage

The blockage of a significant part of Shahrah-e-Pakistan, from Teen Hatti to Liaquatabad flyover, Karachi's main artery that connects the city to other parts of the country through Super Highway, is a common sight these days. As angry protestors pour out, usually after sunset, they block the road by lighting bonfire and pelting stones on vehicles and passersby. Last week, they even set to fire the motorbike of a UC Nazim belonging to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and a police mobile to vent their frustration. The reason being the erratic power outages and unscheduled, long hours of load-shedding.

Over the last few weeks, such protests have become a routine in the densely populated areas of Karachi -- clearly a proof of common citizens having reached the end of their tether.

Interestingly, most of the Karachiites usually have an idea of the kind of problems they will have to face, come May-June. But, the extent of the power crisis this summer must have shocked the daylights out of them. Last year, too, around this time, the enraged mobs had resorted to protests, blocked roads, burnt tyres and debris, pelted stones on vehicles, attacked the Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) offices and their maintenance vehicles, besides torching the Corporation's customer-service centres. But, the size of their outrage is bigger this season, corresponding with the size of their misery.

For its part, the KESC administration has failed miserably to bridge the growing gap between the electricity demand that touched 2400-2500 megawatts around mid-June and the supply that once dropped to just 1600-1700 MWs, mainly owing to lesser power generation, poor transmission capabilities, and Wapda's refusal to come to the Corporation's rescue.

Wapda usually provides around 700-800 megawatts of electricity to the KESC but, during the summer this year, it has not been able to do so, thanks to an ever increasing demand from the domestic, industrial, commercial and agricultural sectors across the country. As a result, it halted the supply of a major chunk of Karachi's share to the KESC, in order to cater for its own customers.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Wapda authorities as well as the Federal Ministry for Water and Power had time and again warned the KESC to increase its power generation capacity, as Wapda would not be able to help matters in rainy days due to its own constraints.

The KESC's own management that took charge less than two years back after the utility service's privatisation could do nothing to save the Corporation from becoming a butt of harsh criticism from both the people and the government.

The situation began to aggravate after the KESC's own power generation plant at Bin Qasim failed to function properly and, with the increase in power demand, three to four of its six electricity generating units ceased to function one after the other in recent days. While during the same period, one of its Korangi Power Plant units also developed a mechanical fault that not only added to the worries of the KESC administration but also created a chaos-like situation in the city.

The KESC also depends on Independent Power Projects (IPPs), including Gul Ahmed and Tapal Energy, whose combined power supply to the Corporation is around 250 megawatts. However, when demand soared, only 250 MWs of electricity could hardly prevent utility service to satisfy its customers or save it from the backlash of the angry Karachiites.

Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP), a single unit nuclear-powered electricity generation plant that started functioning in 1972 with a total gross capacity of 137 MWs but hardly generated around 50-60 megawatts even in its golden days, also disappointed the KESC by providing only 10 MWs to the company, since it has completed its life and whatever it is generating is now considered as bonus by the nuclear experts.

Similarly, Pakistan Steel which used to supply 20 MWs electricity to the KESC, could only come out with 4-5 MWs due to its electricity-generating system being worn-out. KESC's last hope, the DHA de-salination plant that had to start production by the current year, put the KESC in extreme trouble after it was learnt that it could only generate electricity by the mid of 2008.

The story does not end here. The KESC did nothing even to improve its time-worn transmission and distribution networks that collapsed with the increase in pressure at the start of the peak season and put the credibility of Mr Frank, the German CEO of the KESC, into jeopardy although he is still considered a competent chief executive (he left in March 2007).

However, senior KESC officials blame a multinational also a management and operations partner of KESC which had been given a multi-million-dollar contract but it did nothing in the specified areas of electricity generation, transmission and distribution.

According to a senior KESC official, "By awarding these contracts to this company, the authorities actually pushed the utility service to the verge of collapse, because the company management replaced KESC's all-experienced and competent officials with incompetent and inexperienced persons who created a mess in the organisation and, despite having all kinds of resources at their disposal, left no stone unturned to destroy the company."

It is also learnt that as per the contracts signed with the world-renowned electrical company, KESC had to set up 12 more grid stations in different parts of the city to improve the transmission of electricity. But, despite the lapse of several months, it had not moved an inch forward with the project, since the company had not purchased any land for grid stations that it was supposed to establish.

In the distribution area, too, the company disappointed the KESC management and did nothing to improve the electricity distribution system. According to the KESC officials, most of the power breakdowns were occurring in the city due to problems in transmission lines and faulty distribution network.

As regards generation, this company had signed a Rs 26 billion deal for import of a gas-based, combined-cycle power plant for electricity generation of 700-800 MWs, and it was supposed to start production by April 2007, but the deal was cancelled after lacunas were traced in it. Insiders say that the proposed power plant's efficiency was only 14 per cent, while the international standard is at least 37 to 40 per cent. The KESC Board of Directors intervened and got the deal cancelled after learning that the proposed plant was no more in use anywhere in the world.

The company was also supposed to facilitate rehabilitation and ensure the maintenance of the several units of Bin Qasim power plant. But, its poor upkeep ruined the plant, resulting in the tripping of its units, at a time when production from all these units was required.

In addition, it was supposed to establish a multi-purpose call centre 118, a kind of one-window facility to deal with consumers' electricity complaints. But, on that front, too, it let the KESC down.

A KESC official, requesting anonymity, claimed that the federal government was going to provide Rs 13 billion to the Corporation in installments under the system and financial improvement plans. But, as soon as the company was privatised and the multinational was handed over its control, all previous schemes were abandoned and a new system was introduced under which a majority of experienced officials were replaced with "inexperienced and incompetent persons" who made the situation worse.

"Previous KESC officials might be corrupt but they at least knew how to run the organisation and how to deal with a crisis. The freshly appointed personnel lacks that kind of experience and, therefore, has added to the woes of the customers," he added.

According to him, the present Director Operations of KESC who was removed from his previous post on charges of sanctioning illegal power load to some industrial and commercial consumers, was hired for an important post although he is educated in Information Technology (IT), not in electrical engineering. Similarly, General Manager Customer Services and Chief Operating Officer (COO) were also inexperienced and "incompetent people who, instead of setting the house in order, created problems not only for the customers but also for the organisation."

As the crisis deepened, the foreign owners of the KESC replaced the German CEO with a retired military general namely Syed Muhammad Amjad, a few months back, in order to bring the company back on track. They initiated the installation of a 220-MW power plant around mid-June this year, receiving an extra amount of natural gas for larger production on government's intervention and cut the power supply to the local industry in order to meet the domestic demand. But, it was too late.

Soon the KESC managed to close the gap between demand and supply to only 200 MWs. Today, mechanical faults are the order of the day, and the situation remains precisely the same as it was till a few days back. Most of Karachi's densely-populated areas remain without electricity, with the residents of these areas seeking shelter from heat and humidity in open, airy places such as parks and roads where they also have to take up at night time, along with their children.

"These days, as there is no schedule of load-shedding, we don't know when there would be no electricity in our homes, so we can't plan our routine," laments Zeeshan Ahmed, a resident of Liaquatabad, and a computer engineer by profession. "Considering the current performance of the KESC, I believe that in coming months the situation will be even worse."


'If I fail to meet the targets, I'll leave!'

  By Saad Hasan

With no addition to power generation in the last decade or so, the private management of the KESC is faced with the uphill task of dealing with the consumers who are frustrated over load-shedding, and the added responsibility of fixing the worn-out utility. In an interview with TNS, Chief Executive Officer KESC Lt Gen (retd) Syed Muhammad Amjad takes on the criticism and the queries with a pinch of salt.

Amjad claims that the power plants were running on full capacity and a single breakdown in any of the generation units caused the situation to get out of control.

"Turbines should not run continuously on the base-load throughout the week," he says, explaining that the base-load was the actual capacity of derated power plants.

The KESC's own power plants with an installed capacity of 1,756MWs had derated to 1,170MWs when its majority stakes were handed over to a consortium of private investors in December 2005.

The new management has been able to retrieve some of that lost capacity and now the KESC is sending out 1,360MWs of its own. Added to this the supply from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUUP), the combined generation capability, as of now, stand at 1,620--1,630MWs.

On an average, the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) provides the KESC with 600MWs, taking the total available power in Karachi to 2,230MWs against a demand that peaked to 2,400MW recently.

"Running power plants at base-load was prone to breakdowns but since Karachi had an average shortfall of 100MWs, the KESC had to operate its power plants at full capacity," says Amjad.

"Imagine if a 120MWs unit goes off line, the shortfall goes straight to 220MW," he continues. "When the shortfall exceeded 200MW, the load-shedding time doubled."

With an annual 8 per cent increase in power demand, the 192MWs that would be available from an upcoming 220MWs power plant by March 2008 would just about meet the demand and the shortfall would persist.

"That is why I have given a timeline of five years to improve things," he says, adding that the KESC would have an additional 780MWs of its own by then while the remaining deficit would be met by the IPPs.

Amjad says that the KESC envisaged an addition of 1,500MWs from the IPPs by 2010--2011, and the management is now in negotiation with a number of them and plans to seal at least some contracts in the next 12 months.

If these targets of additional generation are achieved, the utility will be able to meet the projected demand of 4,000-4,200MWs by the year 2010. This projection, which is expected to increase to 6000MWs by 2017, also includes the suppressed demand.

The suppressed demand at present is more than 500MWs and includes the untapped market including those who want to switch over from expensive captive power to the KESC system.

In reply to a query, he says that the customers of the KESC are not only perturbed by power breakdowns but they also complain of excessive billing by the utility.

According to Amjad, on February 24, 2007, the government on an average reduced the tariff subsidy by 7.75 per cent. "This means that where a consumer in a specific category was being subsidised to the tune of Rs 1.84, now it has been reduced to Rs 1.64, and has to pay 20 paisa extra."

He clarifies that a subsidy of around Rs 19 billion announced in the budget is for the Karachiites and not the KESC.

The compensation that the KESC was receiving from the government to meet the revenue shortfall has been discontinued after privatisation. "Now these losses have to be compensated by the new owners."

He goes on to elaborate that the aggregate losses of the KESC stand at 34.5 per cent, which Amjad intends to bring down by using a combination of technological and business processes.

While an investment of $268 million on transmission and distribution system in the next three years will help to reduce the technical losses from the existing level of 17 per cent, the major headache for the KESC would be the 17.5 per cent non-technical losses.

The non-technical losses, including theft, vary considerably. "In February, these losses were 14 per cent. Then the mercury rose and, in the following month, the non-technical losses went up to 24 per cent."

The reason for this sudden surge in non-technical losses is the use of air-conditioners which was not reflected in metres. Everything else was constant, indicating that there is a whole lot of air-conditioners in Karachi that are not being billed.

The KESC has failed to check theft, because it does not have the data to show a customer service manager how many units have been consumed in his area of responsibility.

There are 96 customer service centres in Karachi each headed by a manager who is responsible for retrieving the amount against the units consumed.

Amjad reveals that the KESC will install hi-tech metres on its pole mounted transformers (PMTs) which will allow management to know in real time, through General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), how many units have been sent out.

"Then we can give the (actual) figure to the last unit to the manager. However, there will be certain problems which can be taken care of through business processes."

The problem is how to ascertain the real culprit, he says. "In order to make up for the unpaid units a manager would over-bill some and under-bill others, which would lead to disputes and, consequently, to the thief. 3-4 special teams will also be set up to carry out random checks.

"We will not allow any one consumer to cause damage to the entire lot.

"I have set myself targets for the next one year. They involve taking care of the breakdowns, the losses, the distribution as well as execution (of new projects)," he says, adding in a definite tone -- characteristic of an Army man: "If I fail to meet these targets, I'll leave!"


Trading losses

The angry traders of Karachi's commercial centre Saddar staged a protest demonstration in front of the KESC head office at Abdullah Haroon Road, on May 10, blocking the main city artery. They set ablaze a vehicle of the utility company to protest against the continuous power closure in the area.

During the day time, the worst sufferers are the commercial and industrial establishments of the city. When the mercury touches 40 degrees in this hot season, the power goes out for two to four hours at a stretch, which annoys the traders and industrial workers no end.

"We cannot sit in our shops during the day because of load-shedding that lasts four to six hours, and we cannot sleep in our homes at night because, again, there is no light," said Mohammad Qasim, a cloth merchant at Saddar, talking to TNS.

He said that in addition to load-shedding, frequent power breakdowns were very common. "The KESC staff comes in late and, if the fault is severe, it can take them days to restore the power."

The government had put a ban on setting up new power generation systems because of the 1994 power policy in which the private sector was asked to install their own power generation units. But, due to frequent changes in the governments and their polices, together with Wapda's disputes with Independent Power Producers (IPPs), a very small number of IPPs could set up their generation units.

However, now when there is no such ban in effect, no serious effort has been made by the KESC to increase its capacity. The business community of Karachi questions why the new management of the company has not invested in its power generation capacity even after the passage of a year and half.

"The KESC has proved a miserable failure in redressing the problems of the Karachi people," complains Majyd Aziz, President Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

According to Majyd, the bureaucratic mindset of the KESC management is creating hurdles. Even its new managing director is not informed about the actual situation.

At the time of privatisation, the new management had pledged to invest US $500 million in the KESC for a period of three years, and during the first phase it was going to invest US $75 million. The government had sold over 73 per cent of the KESC shares with the management control to the consortium led by Al-Jomaih Holding Company of Saudi Arabia, which has given over the job of operation and management to the German company Siemens. The businessmen blame Siemens for all the ills. They say the company may be good at manufacturing electric motors and other machines, but it is not useful in managing a utility company.

The KESC board of directors has recently appointed a retired general as its new managing director and chief executive officer by replacing the German origin Frank Scherschmidt in a bid to improve the situation. Although the previous head was known to be an open-minded person and he ran the utility effectively, the situation was getting out of his control. So, the board replaced him with a retired military man.

This unexpected shuffle at the start of the crisis surprised many, but the change did not bring any respite to the miseries of the citizens. The new CEO Lt Gen (retd) Syed Muhammed Amjad, who was an ex-NAB chief, seems equally helpless in bringing about a positive change in the situation.

The federal government has had to intervene after the increasing protests by citizens and business. It has provided some relief by facilitating increase in power supply from Wapda and relaxing some of the conditions for IPPs so that new power plants could be set up for Karachi.

The government has also recently given permission for the installation of two coal-blustered power generation plants with a capacity of 1000MWs. Moreover, the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) has asked the industrial units with their own generation capacity to sell the power to the KESC at mutually agreed rates. Some units in Karachi have captive power units with more than 50MW generation capacity.

"If the government continues with such corrective measures, the situation could be helped," comments Masood Naqi, Chairman Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI), talking to TNS.

He claims that earlier the production losses in Korangi industrial areas were about 30 per cent. However, with an improvement in the situation, the losses have come down to about 10 per cent.

The SITE area, said to be the largest industrial estate of the country, was the hardest hit. On one occasion, 80 per cent of the entire SITE area suffered a power breakdown for 72 hours at a stretch, causing an estimated production loss worth Rs 5 billion.

In the words of Chairman Site Association of Industry Ameen Bandukda, history was created when the largest industrial area of the country remained without power for three long days.

The intensity of power crisis may have reduced, particularly after an improvement in supply following the re-starting of the closed power units at Bin Qasim thermal power station, the mechanical faults in power supply still cause uproar in many areas of the city.


Stealing power

  By Farooq Baloch

The electric power theft, say officials, is one of the major reasons for power shortage in the city. Reports reveal that 34 per cent of the total consumption of electricity was illegal last year and caused an annual loss of Rs 800 million to the department. The KESC believes in improving technology in order to discourage people from stealing electricity.

Recently, the Karachiites have experienced a great anxiety due to prolonged power outages several times in a day, lasting even into the night. However, officials from the concerned department and the annual reports of the same are pointing out that one of the main reasons for this catastrophe is power theft on the part of the same people.

"The most recent annual loss suffered by the department is worth Rs 800 million reported last year which is more than 30 per cent of the total consumption," said Sultan Hassan, Principal Information Officer Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC).

"There are no specific localities to be mentioned but the areas where people require more consumption have higher percentage of power theft," he said, adding that scores of "people are involved in power theft across the country, what to talk of Karachi!"

Karachi being a megapolis and the industrial hub of the country boasts a large number of industries and low income settlements (Katchi Abadis). Moreover, it comprises many commercial buildings in both commercial and residential areas and, therefore, the demand for power is higher. But a huge percentage of the required power is said to be stolen by industries, low income settlements, commercial buildings and even the posh residential areas. As learnt from the past drives and the monitoring system conducted by the Army, it is safe to say that these industries and commercial buildings are involved in power theft especially in particular parts of these firms where heavy machinery is installed. Similarly, the raids conducted in the past also showed that Katchi Abadis that cover most parts of the city were found consuming power illegally by means of what is very commonly known as Kunda System. Majority of the people in Katchi Abadis put Kundas (illegal connections) with main lines and even if they are removed by the KESC squads they fix it again the next day or even the next hour. What is even more disappointing is the fact that some posh localities as well as the middle and upper middle class areas also steal electricity through bypassing the metre in such a way that power consumption by appliances like Air Conditioner (AC) does not come into metre readings.

It has also been a very common sight that people pay small amounts to electricians for metre tampering in order to bypass AC from metre lines and connect it directly with the main phase. Due to this, the required demand is not met, resulting in power failures and load shedding. In the past, some raids were conducted, people arrested and fines imposed. But after the monitoring teams went off, things came back to their former state, since illegal practices of stealing power continued.

When asked if the KESC is taking any measures to overcome power theft, Hassan said, "This can be stopped through technology, and we are taking administrative measures in this regard."

Giving details of the measures, he said that they were replacing their distribution lines with Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) insulated aerial bundle cables (single core cable). These cables, he explained, would have all three phases including neutral concealed in PVC, thus it would not be easy to put Kunda on the same.

"It will not only protect from power theft but also resist technical faults and electrocution," he elaborated, "In order to avoid bypassing of metres, we have been shifting metres from inside the houses to outside for the last one and a half year."

He further said that they had already started replacing old lines with PVC concealed cables in affected areas.

When asked as to how long would it take them to complete the work, he said, "We have over 2 million consumers. It will, therefore, be difficult to tell the exact time. However, we will continue with this till we are done.

 

 
Power of riots

  By Muhammad Azeem Samar

The power corridors in Islamabad and the two houses of Parliament, the Senate and National Assembly, in the federal capital have been visibly shaken by the tremors that emanated from the riots and violent protests against serious electricity supply crises in Karachi. So far the authorities concerned seem helpless against the miserable performance of the power utility in meeting the demand of the city that has been on the rise in the present hot and humid weather.

Despite the passage of several weeks the riots and protests against prolonged power breakdowns and load shedding have persisted, causing serious commotion and disturbance in the city. The power riots and violent protest demonstrations are a common feature in the less-privileged, middle class, business, and posh localities of the metropolis.

The protest situation against electricity breakdowns gained a significant momentum on May 10 when the traders and shopkeepers of the Saddar markets, especially those belonging to its large electronics market, staged a violent agitation that invited fierce intervention of the police to control the situation. That day the fierce protestors set to fire a repair vehicle of Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC). In order to defuse the situation and disperse the angry mob the police resorted to intense tear-gas shelling.

Till the date of filing of this report many areas of the city including the posh localities of Defence Housing Authority, Clifton, and adjoining less-developed residential localities of Akhtar Colony, Defence View areas, and other areas of Korangi, have witnessed serious rioting and violent protests by the aggrieved masses.

The city had barely recovered from the violence and bloodshed of May 12 when it was faced with the law and order situation caused by the power crisis that seemed to threaten the peace and security of its environment. The law-enforcement agencies, especially the police, also proved as helpless as they were during the May 12 incidents. However, this time they were confronted with enraged citizens, traders, and shopkeepers who had taken to the streets.

Much like the May 12 mayhem when the Shahrah-e-Faisal was completely blocked a night before the arrival of the chief justice of Pakistan in the city, the trouble and rioting related to the electricity crisis on June 20 once again spilled over to the otherwise completely trouble-free thoroughfare of Karachi, causing suspension of traffic on a major portion of the highway. Police personnel were out on many streets in major parts of the city to control the situation. To little avail.

Earlier, the Sindh Home Affairs Advisor Wasim Akhtar was quoted in news reports as issuing directives to the police officials not to take any stern or harsh action against the protestors who had violently taken to the streets against prolonged power failures and load-shedding. Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad was also reported to have said on certain public occasions that any harsh or arbitrary action against the aggrieved power consumers would not serve any cause and the situation will go from bad to worse. He told the KESC authorities that the situation could only be normalised if they ensured uninterrupted power supply to the aggrieved citizens.

One June 6, many areas of the city including Liaquatabad, Lasbela, Golimar, Nazimabad, Pak Colony, and Gulbahar witnessed serious violent rioting by the enraged dwellers of various residential localities that went on till late in the evening. The protestors resorted to stone-pelting, lighting of bonfires, vandalism, and also ransacked public property and vehicles. In Gulbahar the agitating power consumers also set to fire a KESC vehicle.

The shopkeepers, traders, and businessmen of Karachi's leading commercial areas such as Saddar, Tariq Road, M A Jinnah Road, Abdullah Haroon Road, Clifton, and Defence staged demonstrations, of which many were ridden with violence. On June 9, the commercial and semi-business areas of Teen Talwar, Defence, KPT Underpass, Punjab Chowrangi, Korangi Road, Abdullah Haroon Road, were marred by violent demonstrations that saw burning of tyres and old furniture, serious hurdles in the traffic movement, and other acts of vandalism. The police had to resort to severe tear-gas shelling to clear the one Abdullah Haroon Road which happens to be the busiest artery of the Saddar area.

On June 12, more of such protests and rioting scenes were seen in different parts of the metropolis, including Banaras Roundabout, Nazimabad, Jahangir Road, Patel Para, and Nazimabad.

The following day, life in Liaquatabad, Lasbela, Gharibabad, and Ishaqabad came to a halt thanks to fierce and violent protest demos, affecting any vehicular movement on the road.

June 12 saw the worst traffic jam in the history of Karachi that had most four-wheelers stuck for long hours on Shahrah e Faisal, University Road, Tipu Sultan Road, M A Jinnah Road, Shahrah-e-Pakistan, Jahangir Road.

The same day, the City District Council Karachi unanimously passed a resolution demanding the annulment of the privatisation of the KESC because of its failure to deal with the power crisis. That fateful day, the city council's proceedings witnessed a rarely-seen-before unity among the treasury and opposition benches in their condemnation of the seriously defective performance of the power utility.

 


Break-up of the breakdown

  By Saad Hasan

The new management of the Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) is eyeing to break even its revenue and expenditure by year 2009 on the basis of reduced transmission and distribution (T&D) losses. "In the next one year, the utility is planning to cap its T&D losses to 30 per cent from the present 34.5 per cent," Lt-Gen (ret) Syed M. Amjad, the CEO of KESC told TNS.

"One per cent loss reduction means Rs850 million more revenue," he said, adding that 4.5 per cent fewer losses would yield more than Rs3.8 billion.

During the first nine months of outgoing fiscal year, the T&D losses of the utility rose to 34.1per cent -- up by 0.6 per cent from previous year's 33.5 per cent.

The financial woes of KESC have aggravated over the years with rise in T&D losses which are incurred as a result of both technical and non-technical wastages.

While enhanced revenue as a result of better sales and a decrease in fuel and power purchase cost helped KESC in reducing loss before tax and subsidy to Rs8 billion during July-March 2006-07 from Rs10 billion in the corresponding period of last year, withdrawal of government subsidy to privatised utility made the financial outlook even worse than the previous year.

Loss after factoring in taxation and subsidy increased to Rs8.2 billion from last year's Rs4.7 billion.

"We have Rs20 billion stuck up as arrears," said Amjad, adding Rs3 billion would be received from that during next fiscal year starting July 01, 2007. "So we are hoping to have a positive impact of Rs6.5 billion on KESC's balance-sheet."

The rehabilitation work being undertaken by the KESC would also go on to improve the financial position of the utility.

The KESC would spend $809 million in next three years over the rehabilitation of transmission and distribution system and addition of new generation facilities.

"Every time there is a breakdown, there is lost of megawatt hours. When we improve the technical side, we will have lesser breakdowns and more sales," he said. 

The CEO of KESC ruled out any plans for retrenchment saying it would be counter productive since employee's salaries were already competitive. "Our bills pertaining to salaries are reasonable compared to similar industry elsewhere."

 

 

 

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