Electricity consumers not benefited from privatization

Karachi: The consumers of Karachi Electric Supply Company KESC are not benefited from the privatization of this important power generation and distribution entity, as neither the duration of load shedding is curtailed nor electricity tariffs stabilized.

This was said by Pasban Pakistan Public Issues Director Abubakar Usman in a statement opined that the main objective of the privatization was to provide sufficient and cheap electricity to Karachi consumers and in this regard upgrade the electricity supply system as per international standards. He said sadly this objective could not be achieved through the privatization as after going of this important civic service entity in private hands, the consumers are braving even longer long load shedding during day as well as night hours, coupled with steep rise in power tariff. He said it means that after the privatization the KESC its consumers are paying more just for more load shedding.

He strongly condemned that decision to further raise the electricity tariff by 30percent with effect from October 1, saying it would just boost the Kunda culture. He said steps be taken to provide electricity to people at affordable rates, so as to check power theft.

Commenting on the plans to generate electricity through coal, he regretted environmental and ecological concerns in this regard are not being addressed. He said in the clauses of privatization there is not a single clause which empowers the private owners to sublease the assets of the entity to some other company and relinquish them from the responsibility of electricity supply system. He said as per the Companies Law and Procedure of Companies Act they must obtain a prior permission and approval before subleasing its assets and under no circumstances the KESC could ignore these laws.

He said hence the private management has no authority to close, change or sublease the units 3 and 4 of Bin Qasim power plant to maximize profit of its private owners. He said before converting these units to coal it is necessary to redress the environmental, ecological and healthcare problems related to emission of poisonous gases of coal. He reminded that in 1988 during the Pakistan Peoples’ Party PPP government work was started on the largest coal based power plant of Asia in Keti Bander, but after the end of the Benazir Bhutto government this project was scrapped due to the environmental concerns, despite billions of rupees had already been spent on it.

He said the Karachiites are baffled that the issue of air pollution related to coal based power generation is being neglected. He said the advertisement of NEPRA that the units 3 and 4 of Bin Qasim power plant after being handed over to IPP for coal-electricity generation would not be the part of current production fleet of KESC, and policy has been formed to improve the performance of these two unit ‘gifted’ to IPP. He said if the private management is unable to improve the performance of these two units it should return them back to the government of Pakistan, as they are not authorized to lease or sublease them.

Pasban leader said the elect city consumers are being exploited as the KESC purchases power from the NTDC on concessional rates and resells it to the power consumers of Karachi on exorbitant rates. He said it is necessary for the power entity to improve its production capacity and control line losses by bettering its supply system. He reminded that the privatized entity had been given copper cables worth billions of rupees, but the private owners are selling these costly copper cables and replacing them with cheap and substandard aluminium cables. He said as per British Standards copper wires are necessary to provide consumers full voltage of electricity. He said the consumers get 160 or 180 volts of electricity due to substandard aluminium wires instead of standard 220 volts, which results in burning of their costly electrical appliances.

Abubakar Usman said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz PMLN has come into power with the votes of masses and it should safeguard the interests of these masses instead of serving the profit hungry tycoons and their commercial interests. He said during the Nepra public hearing decisions should be made keeping in mind the interests of these consumers. He also asked to constitute a high-powered commission to safeguard the interests of electricity consumers of Karachi.

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