Mega what? Pakistan asks why power cuts going up as temperatures rise

Mar 31, 2018


We’ll end load shedding in two years. We’ll end load shedding in three years. My name won’t be Shehbaz Sharif if I don’t end load shedding. We hate to break it to him, but it seems like Mr Sharif may have to change his name—we’ve still got load shedding. As 40-degree weather struck Sindh and Balochistan this week blackouts started to happen. The timing could not have been worse. It is an election year. When Nawaz Sharif was prime minister, the government had made the spectacular claim that load shedding would end in 2017. “We voted for them,” said one man. Clearly, he is reconsidering his vote for 2018. To be fair, more electricity is being produced. We used to be 4,880 mega watts short. We are now 3,650 mega watts short. This still doesn’t mean that we have enough electricity though. And this is why we have two to 16 hours of load shedding in the country. “In Lahore it is quite bad, imagine what it’s like in the surrounding areas,” said one man to SAMAA TV. Also watch: Prolonged power outages spark outcries in Karachi In Karachi, the chief minister sent a stinker of a letter to the prime minister saying that K-Electric did not get enough gas from Sui Southern to produce electricity. He asked him to “take notice”, which in bureaucrat-speak means: Do something. The prime minister had been working on this. One solution is for K-Electric shares to be given to Shanghai Power Company to help Karachi. But Privatisation Secretary Irfan Ali had a fight with the prime minister over going ahead with this without doing the right paperwork. “If you lived in Karachi you’d know what this was like,” the PM retorted in a meeting. (Explanation: Shanghai Electric Power is an energy company in China. K-Electric is a Pakistan utility controlled by Abraaj Group. The Dubai-based Abraaj Group, in partnership with Al-Jomaih Group of Saudi Arabia and National Industries Group of Kuwait, holds a 66% stake in K-Electric through its parent company known as KES Power. Privatisation Secretary Irfan Ali argues that the Privatisation Commission should not approve selling shares without following the legal procedure. The PM said he would get the cabinet to approve it.) Elsewhere in the country, pressure is piling up. Anti-Nawaz party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MPA Malik Taimoor said the PML-N government’s promises to end power cuts had been broken. Power cuts in Balochistan mean water shortages. “I have to get a water tanker,” explained one man. “If there is no power, the pump machine doesn’t work.” Another complained that paying for diesel for a generator had become too expensive for him. “Only my Rabb knows there is no power,” said one man. Other people had more immediate concerns: How are we going to watch the West Indies match? It seems like the government is feeling the heat. Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal got a little hot under the collar. “The genie is back in the bottle,” he said, referring to load shedding at an event in Lahore. "This country used to be one where some places didn’t get power for 20 hours. Now it comes for 20 hours. That is change. What’s the problem now?” He was even a little defensive: “Ask an average citizen. Is this Pakistan better [in 2018]? They’ll all say it is better.” Well… SAMAA TV went out and asked a few people if they did agree with Mr Iqbal. The simplest analysis came from a young man in school: “How do you expect this nation to progress if schools don’t have electricity?” With reporting by Wahab Kamran, Usman Khan, Shahnawaz Ali, Shahid Hussain, Mohammad Atif






Load Shedding

power cuts


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