Long hours of loadshedding paralyse business, industries

KARACHI (October 14 2010): Persisting long hours load shedding has paralysed activities of small business in the city, rendering them from hand to mouth. Sources described Karachi Electric Supply Corporation’s (KESC) decision to increase load shedding hours in business areas as their economic murder.According to small businessmen, the recent increase in the duration of load shedding will leave a negative impact on business activities and on their income. They urged the government to direct KESC to run the power plants on furnace oil, instead of making a hue and cry about shortage of gas.Small business owners, including photostat, lathe machine, tailors, dry cleaners, photo studios, net cafes etc have been suffering huge losses due to prolonged load shedding carried out by Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC). They said they are already facing adversity due to the ever-increasing cost of living, and increase in load shedding hours would further make worse their living conditions.

They said that the government seems to be unconcerned about the menacing problem and threat to the country’s economy, as there seems to be no intervention from its side to protect the consumers. The only intervention has been to the advantage of the privatised KESC management in the form of increase in tariff.During visit of different areas of the city the small businessmen said that the present government as well as the governments in past knew only one thing and that is to increase power and gas tariffs, increase sales tax, impose new taxes, bow down before IMF and World Bank, make huge expenses on their own living and have no sympathy for general public.

Traders alleged that KESC deliberately switches off power units to conserve fuel. Power consumption has already dropped many times as residential and commercial use of air conditioners, fans etc has been reduced owing cloudy weather.They said that the small business owners are already passing through difficult times and facing a great deal of serious complication including declining sales, failing to complete customers’ orders on time, facing problems to pay rent of shops, schools fee of children, payment of electricity bills due to declining income and now increase in load shedding will further worsen their living condition.

They said that increase in load shedding hours in Karachi will have serous repercussions and big impact on income of small businessmen like photo copying business, lathe machine, tailors, etc beside long hours closure on industrial units. Beside small business owners, industrial areas are also suffering badly due to massive load shedding in the city and industries are unable to fulfil their commitments to their buyers. Industrialists have expressed grave concern over the ailing industries due to the power crisis and many of them have already closed down. “It is resulting in loss of precious revenue to the national exchequer and creating unemployment”, they added.

Industrialists urged the KESC to immediately carry out a contingency plan to arrest line losses, eliminate power thefts and fulfill its commitment to upgrade its system besides enhancing power generation. It has been noted that around 40 percent labour working in different industries and other sectors are daily wage workers and it is feared that they will lose their day’s earning if load shedding continues.

They are already facing adversity due to ever-rising cost of living and increase in load shedding hours will further make worse their living condition. Meanwhile, Chairman of Site Association of Industry (SAI), Abdul Wahab Lakhani, has reacted strongly to the power outage for four hours in the night of 12th October 2010 and again for four hours in the morning of 13th October 2010 which has crippled production and resulted in heavy loss to the Industry apart from affecting the export commitments of our member unit.

He said: “Industries located in SITE industrial area have been badly affected as most of the small industries who are vendors for the large exporters became idle due to non-availability of electric power”. The Association was informed that the outage had occurred due to non-supply of gas by SSGC to KESC. Further inquiries showed that SSGC had disconnected its supply because KESC is not making payments to SSGC and billions of rupees had accumulated in arrears leading to this drastic step.

‘It’s a universal fact that electricity consumers in general and industries of SITE in particular have been making regular payments of energy bills to KESC. Then why this accumulation of huge arrears?” the Chairman enquired. The KESC hierarchy is morally bound to explain why the consumers should suffer on this count. The disruption of over three to four hours of electricity to the SITE area has caused a loss of nearly Rs 1 billion in terms of production alone.

The Chairman appealed to the Governor of Sindh, Dr Ishrat-ul-Ibad Khan, Chief Minister of Sindh, Qaim Ali Shah and Federal Minister for Water & Power, Parvez Ashraf to take serious note of the incident and ensure that such mishaps do not recur in future – Brecorde