RAWALPINDI / ISLAMABAD / LAHORE / PESHAWAR / KARACHI:
Load-shedding has returned and it seems like power cuts are here to stay. All the major cities of the country are suffering eight to 20 hours of load-shedding every day in winter. Meanwhile, some areas are also experiencing gas outages, not blackouts alone.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa seems to be the worst-hit with rural areas experiencing power cuts for 18-20 hours a day and 10-14 hours a day in urban areas.
No substantial measures are being taken to lessen or manage the unscheduled power cuts and therefore, businesses and people continue to suffer. Shakirullah, the president of the Shabqadar Marble Association, said business has dropped by 40% this year in winter alone. Citing the closure of several marble factories in a zone where hundreds of workers were employed, he reiterated that “no effort to restrain load-shedding has been made so far”. “Many of us cannot even afford to sell our marble factories,” he added.
Peshawar Electric Supply Corporation (PESCO) officials told The Express Tribune that the difference in the supply and demand of electricity is just too big. The amount of electricity that needs to be generated is 2,400MW, but K-P is falling short of a staggering 600MW.
In Karachi, the electricity utility claimed that they are getting only 50% of the gas supply needed to generate electricity. “We are receiving only 75 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) instead of 320 million mmcfd, according to an agreement with the (gas utility) SSGC,” said the Karachi Electric Supply Company’s spokesperson. “Despite the shortage of gas supply, we have not planned on increasing load-shedding in the city. The power cuts are under way according to schedule, which range from three to seven hours a day,” he added.
However, areas of Azizabad, North Nazimabad, New Karachi and Gulshan-e-Iqbal have reportedly been deprived of electricity for longer hours, residents told The Express Tribune.
After enjoying around two months of uninterrupted power supply, the consumers of Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco) are now facing six hours of power cuts due to the closure of canals.
The overall shortfall of National transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) reached 2,400 MW and the national energy demand, according to NTDC officials, is 11,000 MW whereas the generation stands at 8,600 MW. Around 2,300 MW of power is needed whereas the supply to Lesco is at 1,500 MW, which is why a new schedule of load management will be put in practice soon, increasing power cuts to 8-10 hours.
Separately, the Islamabad Electric Supply Company claimed that it is carrying out forced power outages in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad because of a 2,600 MW shortfall. Talking to The Express Tribune, Muhammad Yasir, an official of IESCO, said the load-shedding schedule would be announced within or after a week. “For the time being, we will be suspending power in urban areas for eight hours,” he said.
IESCO’s director operation, who introduced himself as F Siddique said, “The Rawalpindi division is being provided 723 MW of which the IESCO is facing a shortage of 400 MW.”
Meanwhile, the rural areas are experiencing 12 to 16 hours of power outages.
Domestic consumers of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) are once again dealing with low pressure of gas in the brutal winter. Few lower income areas of Lahore are even facing gas load-shedding without prior notice.
SNGPL has restored gas supply to textile industries this winter for eight hours daily, which has increased the shortfall to 1200Mmcfd, claimed an official of the utility. Meanwhile, an SNGPL spokesman promised things would go back to normal during the next week.
In Karachi, the ongoing gas crisis, particularly in households, will be mitigated starting Saturday, according to Aminullah Khan, a Senior General Manager Distributions and Operations at the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC). There is a severe shortage in gas volume which is why some areas, particularly those away from SSGC’s sales meter stations, have low gas pressure.