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KARACHI: The very first, yet ‘unpredicted’ spell of this year’s monsoon rain that lashed Karachi on Monday morning affected K-Electric’s (KE) transmission system, causing tripping of some 400 power feeders, suspending power supply to almost all parts of the metropolis, and electrocuting a boy.

The worst rain-hit and power affected areas included Saddar, Malir, Korangi, Landhi, II Chundrigar Road, Steel Town, Yaseenabad, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Lyari, Numaish, Old City Area, Gadap, University Road, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Lines area, PECHS, Orangi, Bin Qasim, DHA, Surjani, Society etc.

According to the police, the ill-fated boy who lost his life has been identified as Hammad who was riding his bicycle when he encountered rainwater that had accumulated on the street and touched electricity pole and received electric shock in Alfalah society. The body was shifted to Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) for medico-legal formalities.

Hours after the rain had stopped, there were complaints of power outages at various parts of the city. A number of points including Gora Qabristan, Vita Chowrangi in Korangi, Nagan Chowrangi, KDA Chowrangi, Abdullah Haroon road, Regal Chowk, along BBQ Tonight etc. were still submerged with rain water, however, the civic agencies were engaged and pumps were being placed to take the water out.

The power-hit consumers said that the first spell of this year’s rain has exposed tall claim of K-Electric of taking rain mitigation, safety enhancement measures, and investment of upto Rs84 billion in the distribution network over the last 5 years. They said that it has been a routine experience for the last many years that KE’s power network develops faults immediately after a few drops of rain hit the city.

As soon as rain struck Karachi, the Federal Maritime affairs minister Ali Haider Zaidi took to twitter and accused the PPP-led provincial government saying: “Rain has taken away the heat from KHI. Fed Govt has done & is doing all it can to help the useless & corrupt provincial Sindh Government who for years failed to clean the storm drains & pick up trash. Hope we don’t drown in our own garbage once again. May Allah have mercy on this city.”

Meanwhile the Sindh Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah blamed met office for not forecasting the rain in the metropolis for Monday. He said the Met Department must inform the relevant civic agencies about the rains so that they can better prepare for mitigating the rain related challenges.

The minister issued directions to the relevant civic bodies including the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and District Municipal Corporation DMCs to drain out the rainwater from the city’s choking points, main arteries and the low-lying areas, so that the citizens may not face hardships.

On the other hand Administrator Karachi Laeeq Ahmed said that Monday’s spell of rain was premature however it would help us in motivating the measures ahead of monsoon. Contingency plan has been prepared for monsoon as dewatering pumps were on standby at underpasses. Three teams comprising of officers and employees are set up for better drainage of rain water, he said, while talking to media at Metropole Chowrangi after inspecting drainage works at Sharea Faisal, Karsaz, Liaquatabad, Nazimabad underpass and other localities.

The Administrator said that in the wake of meteorological department prediction that there would be 50 per cent more rains this year, KMC and other civic departments are fully ready to facilitate the people during rains.

He said that joint efforts and strategy should be adopted as the situation would remain in control if every civic body performs its responsibilities.

“Services of Pakistan Navy, Cantonment Boards and Pakistan Disaster Management Authority may also be sought in case of any emergency,” he added. Ahmed said that cleanliness of 514 small and 38 big nullahs are being carried out. He said that water of 70 to 80 millimetre rain could be drained out timely in Karachi but in case of 150 to 200 millimetre rain, it would be difficult for them to drain out water on time.

Replying to a question, the Administrator said encroachment from Sharea Faisal would be removed. He also said action is being taken against illegally established cattle markets in different parts of the city.

Advisor to Chief Minister Sindh on Law & Environment, Spokesperson of Sindh Government Murtaza Wahab paid visits to various city neighbourhoods including Old Sabzi Mandi, Hassan Square, NIPA, Maskan, Disco Bakery & KDA Chowrangi, Nagan Chowrangi & Hyderi. He said the municipal & administrative staff is doing their best to clear rain water. I have travelled around different areas of the city & the situation appears to be under control & traffic is also normal so far.

On the other hand KE said Power supply to strategic installations including Dhabeji and Gharo pumping stations was restored on priority, while supply to other locations including hospitals and Karachi International Airport continued smoothly. Approximately 80 percent of KE’s distribution network remained operational during the 3 spells of rain faced by the city. KE’s ground teams were also mobilised to rectify localised faults as soon as the rains subsided and clearance was received. Restored areas included but were not limited to Frontier Colony; Gulshan-e-Iqbal Block 10-A and Block 17; North Nazimabad Block N, P and Q; Mehran Town Sector 6-F; Liaquatabad No. 6; Clifton Block 4; DHA Phase 2, and others.

At the same time, power supply to some areas was pre-emptively and temporarily shut down owing to the high prevalence of kundas. The use of illegal means to acquire electricity compromise KE’s infrastructure and creates safety hazards for the residents due to which KE’s teams had to shut down power to prevent the loss of life and property. Similarly, some areas were affected due to accumulated water which also posed a safety risk, requiring a temporary shut down while standing water receded.

Spokesperson KE stated, “Our teams were able to gain control of the situation quickly despite the rain showers that hit the city today. KE’s transmission and distribution system remained largely intact ensuring a stable supply of power to Karachi, and our ground teams were active in rectifying localised faults as well. As the Pak Met Department has forecast more rain in the upcoming weeks, we strongly advise citizens to remain safe and take all necessary precautions. Avoid leaving the house if there is standing water and maintain a safe distance from the electricity infrastructure at all times.

KE urges all the residents to ensure that any use of an illegal connection must be immediately removed, and all such instances be reported so that the precious lives of the citizens of Karachi can be protected.”

Information about restoration efforts was publicly disseminated through KE’s Live Broadcast on its social media pages. Following restoration of power supply to the city, customers were advised to utilise KE’s 24/7 customer care channels including 118 call centre, 8119 SMS service, KE Live App, and social media for any queries or complaints.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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