EDITORIAL: Power cuts amid sizzling June heat are making life miserable for the people all across the country, especially in Karachi where electricity outages in some areas are reported to last from 12 to 16 hours each day.
Mindful of growing public resentment over the issue, PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi addressed a press conference on Monday to offer some solace. Flanked by the Minister for Power Khurram Dastgir, State Minister for Petroleum Musadik Malik, and Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, he said “sorry” for the punishing load-shedding and promised some respite from Tuesday on.
He announced a reduction in electricity outages in three phases starting with an immediate drop in outages to three- and-a-half hour, less than three 3 hours by June 16, and 1.5-2 hours by June 30.
Although Abbasi said his government is not interested in making excuses and is focused on fixing the issues plaguing the country, he blamed the previous government for the current crisis, accusing it of lying about having installed new power plants. Not a single plant has been installed in the last four years, he averred.
Regardless of the veracity of this claim, at least a part of the blame lies with the present government for failure to take timely action rather than lack of sufficient generation capacity. As the PML-N leader himself explained, the government needs time to rectify the situating to make up for a shortfall of 4000 megawatts by releasing additional funds to power providers and escalating coal imports. Besides, electricity generation is being augmented by buying expensive liquefied natural gas and furnace oil from the market.
That means the existing generation capacity was not being properly utilised until the shortfall hit the country in crisis proportions. Had these same measures been taken earlier the shortfall may not have been as acute as it is at present. In any event, the situation is likely to remain bad till the end of this summer season.
In tandem with management arrangements, Abbasi says are underway to tide over the shortages, the government needs to take executive action aimed at restricting working hours for all businesses to daylight time with the exception of drug stores, corner shops, and bakeries. Notably, for quite some time in Punjab the wedding halls have already been switching off their lights by 10:00 PM., signalling guests to leave.
That time limit should be brought down further and the other provinces made to follow suit. Also, restaurants can stop serving guests in person during late evenings, and offer home delivery service only. These constraints will cause discomfort to many, but are necessary to provide comfort to people spending sleepless nights in their homes unable to use electrical appliances to beat the gruelling heat of summer months.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022