- Umer Hussain claims WAPDA employees tampered with electricity meter when refused a bribe
- Accuses DHA SDO of cutting off electricity meter without notice
- DHA SDO denies accusations, says shop overloaded electricity meter
LAHORE: Umer Hussain, owner of coffee and ice cream shop, Sweet Tooth that is based in Sector T of Defence Housing Authority (DHA) has accused Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) officials of blackmailing him for bribes and DHA East sub-divisional officer (SDO) for being accomplice in the crime by cutting off electricity supply and harassing a female employee.
However, the area’s sub-divisional officer has denied the claims, saying that electricity was cut off because the shop’s electricity requirements damaged the meter which needed to be replaced frequently.
The restaurant owner posted on his personal profile on Thursday night, alleging that his electricity supply was cut off because he wouldn’t give bribes to WAPDA, and accused the DHA SDO of cutting off his electricity connection, demanding heavy compensation in exchange.
He told Pakistan Today: “It started a couple months back when a WAPDA employee came to us claiming that he could cut our electricity bill of I agreed to give them a certain cut. I replied that prostitution is a much more lucrative business [for making money]. He didn’t like how I replied.”
“Afterwards, the parties started causing trouble for us. A lineman would come in every few days claiming that there were some issues with the transformer or the electricity phase that needed fixing. He’d then demand Rs500/1000 as compensation for the task.”
“Later, we started an internship programme under which we deployed students belonging to different universities as branch managers on a temporary basis. A third-year female student from Lahore School of Economics was interning at our branch. The lineman would come in, harass her for compensation in form of money, or an ice cream scoop. I was travelling over the country tending to other branches in the franchise so I was largely unaware of the issues until recently.”
“They took off our meter a few days before the reading was to be recorded and gave us an approximation of RS4 lac 75,000. They demanded RS35,000 to install a new electricity meter. I reached out to Hafiz Hussain, chief engineering officer in WAPDA who was able to intervene and discipline the employees. ”
“After the meter had been installed, the lineman handed over his phone to the female internee, saying that SDO wants to talk to you. [He] was unaware that she wasn’t a permanent manager on the job. He hit on her, inviting her in for a coffee and she abused him in anger. [Tahir] took it personally.”
“Around Muharram 8, our meter and connecting wires were taken off the main supply. Due to holidays, the offices were closed for several days. When we approached him, he demanded RS500,000 in bribe.”
“We filed a case in the high court. We have a stay order against them, the judge clearly instructed them to restart our electricity connection immediately. The order is attached to the electricity poles.”
Talking to Pakistan Today, SDO Tahir denied the allegations for bribery. He argued that the electricity requirements of the shop were overloading the meter due to which it needed replacement on a frequent basis. They did not listen to us when we asked them to get a meter replacement”
“They were paying for 5kW when their electricity expenditure amounted to 25kW.”
“The shop owners connected to the direct supply without permission.”
In response, Hussain said: “The direct connection was put up by WAPDA employees. They disconnected the meter again and connected the supply to mains so they could frame us for stealing electricity. However, we recorded it on video so we have documentary evidence.”
“These allegations are obtuse. It is a commercial building with a commercial electricity meter. How much burden can we put it on it anyway? Moreover, we were not issued any notice for meter replacement. Had they asked us to do so, we would have obliged.”
“I did not submit to them and ran on generators that cost me Rs2,500 per hour in operation, as well as Rs4,500 in rent. However, the authorities demanded we switch off our generators, saying we cannot keep a generator on rentals outside the building.”
Official rules and regulations on DHA Lahore website state that a generator cannot be the prime source of electricity and the owner must get permission from authorities prior to the installation of a generator.
Replying to a question pertaining to those regulations, Hussain said he was aware that permission is needed prior to installation.
“But what is one to do when the authorities cut off your electricity supply without any notification, and refuse to comply with court orders? How are we supposed to survive as a business if we don’t install generators?”
“I can not imagine how someone who is not connected or doesn’t bow to the demands of these bribe mongers can survive in this country!” he stressed.