- Not the solution to Karachi’s energy problems
On Saturday, Minister for Planning Asad Umar confidently promised that there would be no more unannounced electricity load shedding in Karachi from Sunday, however there were still power outages across the city. He went on to warn K-electric that if it ‘did not resolve the issues’ the government would ‘take over’. The center holds K-Electric responsible for the recent energy crisis that the metropolis has been facing and blames the privately owned company for having inadequate infrastructure to carry the required megawatts to stem load shedding. K-electric however claims that an acute furnace oil shortage and the fact that the company’s many requests to the federal government and PSO, dating back to January demanding 120,000 tons of oil, not being entertained, prevented them from generating the required amount of electricity. Karachi has a perennial load shedding problem that peaks during the summer season and with the city under varying degrees of a lockdown due to Covid-19, demand unexpectedly skyrocketed. In the midst of it all, the blame game and politicization of the issue, residential and commercial consumers have to suffer, while also having to pay their electricity bills regularly. While the sufficient availability of electricity in the grid is no longer a major problem, a dated and inefficient transmission system leads to line losses and breakdowns.
This is much more prominent and in public-owned electricity generation, distribution and transmission companies for they are inefficiently run loss-making units that are a burden on the taxpayer. This reality makes the threat to take over sound rather ridiculous since K-electric is comparatively a more efficiently run profit making entity. The only possible way for any sort of ‘nationalisation’ to even be remotely possible would require the government to declare K-Electric as being ‘against the national interest’ and therefore requiring the former to step-in. Not only is that a longshot, it will be near impossible to convince the courts of the same. The Abraaj group owns 66% of the company and therefore, despite its CEO’s own legal troubles; it will fight any such move tooth and nail in the courts. All this unrealistic talk of taking over therefore only generates more friction between the two entities involved. Instead, both should focus on resolving the issue rather than making it further controversial at the expense of Karachi’s citizens.