Unbridled and prolonged power cuts have forced people to take to streets in blistering heat of May, as the government remains unable to add more electricity to the national grid to offset the power shortfall that has topped 3,000MW.
In Lahore, a protest demonstration was observed on Friday in which enraged power consumers attacked a Lahore Electric Supply Company (LESCO) office in Kot Lakhpat area over unannounced and hours-long load shedding. The charged protesters came out of their houses with sticks and chanted slogans against the government and LESCO authorities.
They complained that they were facing 16 hours of load shedding, and LESCO officials were not even ready to listen to their complaints. They said that as their calls to the LESCO helpline were not being answered, they were left with no option but to protest on streets.
“We are spending sleepless nights. There is no light when I come home in the evening, nor when I leave for my office in the morning,” said, Ahmad Akram, one of the protesters.
As the protesters attacked the LESCO office, the officials present there fled in order to save their lives. The charged citizens vandalised the LESCO office and set the equipment on fire. Some cars parked near the LESCO office were also set ablaze by the protesting citizens. Police were called in to placate the protest and as a result, two citizens were hand-cuffed.
Nevertheless, the major reason behind the ruling PML-N’s inability to bring down the duration of load shedding is its failure to add a considerable amount of electricity to the national grid despite the passage of three years of its tenure.
The PML-N which had before the general elections of 2013 claimed they would resolve the power load shedding issue in six months after they would come into power, is now giving new time for the end of load shedding ie 2018.
Reportedly, six-hour power load shedding was announced for big cities and up to 12 hours of power outages for rural areas and villages, but the cities continue to face power cuts of up to 10 hours and rural areas up to 16 hours.
Sources in the power sector said that it was impossible for the power distribution companies to stick o the load shedding schedule because there was a huge difference between the demand and supply.
According to sources, currently the electricity demand is more than 21,000 MW, but its generation from hydel, thermal and IPPs components is below than 15,000MW which includes around 6,000MW from hydel and 9,000MW from Wapda-owned Gencos (generation companies) and private IPPs (independent power producers).
Meanwhile, many people complained about damages to their electrical appliances due to power fluctuations, tripping and low voltage. An official on the condition of anonymity told Pakistan Today that in many areas low voltages were being provided to customers and this definitely might harm their electrical appliances.