- Energy minister Khurram Dastgir had earlier given a deadline of 10pm for complete restoration of power supply
Pakistan expected to restore power to most parts of the country by 10pm, but more than two hours after a government-set deadline large swathes of the country remained in the dark as the outage approached 18 hours.
“We are trying our utmost to achieve restoration before that,” Federal Minister for Energy Dastgir told Reuters ahead of the 10pm deadline he set.
His comments come after a power breakdown affected most parts of the nation, with some areas reporting partial restoration of supply. However, the restoration was short-lived.
Addressing a press conference earlier on Monday, Dastgir had said that infrastructure of the country was “safe and functioning properly”.
“As soon as the breakdown became evident, we sprang into action and electricity was restored in parts of Balochistan and Sindh. K-Electric has been supplied with limited electricity and we are working on complete restoration.”
He stated that each and every power plant affected by the breakdown had to be brought online.
“After consultation with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, I have asked all power plant operators to bring the units online using alternate fuels.”
A three-member team has been created to conduct inquiry into the incident, he said.
On Monday morning, Pakistan experienced a wide-scale power breakdown, which was caused after system frequency of the National Grid went down at around 7:34am.
Dastgir had said a large voltage swing in the south cascaded northwards to cause the power breakdown, adding that supply was being restored.
Quetta Electric Supply Company (QESCO) had said two transmission lines from Guddu to Quetta tripped.
QESCO added that 22 districts of Balochistan, including Quetta, were also without power.
In Islamabad, nearly 117 grid stations were affected due to the breakdown.
K-Electric (KE) spokesperson Imran Rana had stated in the morning there were reports of multiple outages from different parts of Karachi.
“The National Grid experienced a loss of frequency, affecting power supply to multiple cities across Pakistan. This has also cascaded to KE’s network affecting power supply to Karachi,” KE said in a statement.
It added that its network is safe and protected and its teams are actively monitoring the situation and enabling restoration efforts.
The company later said that power supply to strategic facilities like airport, hospitals, and the Karachi Port was being restored on a priority basis.
Meanwhile, the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) took notice of the power outage, and directed the National Transmission & Despatch Company (NTDC) to submit a “detailed report”.
Moving to backup options
Mohammad Asim, a spokesman for Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital, the largest hospital in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said back up generators were used to provide uninterrupted electricity for the emergency ward, intensive care units, and laboratories.
Pakistan has enough power installed capacity to meet demand, especially in winter, when it mostly has a surplus.
But the country lacks resources to run its oil and gas powered plants and the sector is heavily in debt, and inadequate investment in infrastructure and power lines has resulted in the national grid suffering frequent breakdowns.
Users report outage of mobile phone services
As the power breakdown persisted, several users in Karachi also experienced dropped calls and issues in connectivity.
Users of various service provider took to social media and reported that they were unable to place or receive calls.
Power breakdown in October
Last year in October, a massive power breakdown hit Sindh and Punjab after a “fault in the country’s southern transmission system”, the Ministry of Energy had stated back then.
Electricity supply was suspended in various areas of Sindh, including Karachi, Hyderabad, Thatta, Jamshoro, Sujawal, Badin, Mirpurkhas, Umarkot, Sanghar, Nawabshah, Matiari, Tharparkar and Larkana.