While natural gas consumers in Karachi have already been facing continued misery owing to gas loadshedding, the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) has been adding to their woes by sending them inflated bills. This is despite the fact that they do not have regular gas supply at their homes. The SSGC is clearly giving new meaning to the phrase ‘burning the candles at both ends’.
In March, we hardly had gas supply from the SSGC for the whole month. This compelled us to arrange for a gas cylinder and had to get it refilled twice. Yet, we received a bill of Rs7,140 and the unit consumption was 190.
On the other hand, in February, the gas bill was worth Rs2,890 with 173-unit consumption. We have a total of 27 people residing in one building. There are a total of four families of which two are tenants. We divide our bills amongst the four families.
In February, the per-person cost was Rs107, while in March, it went up to Rs264; a spike of almost 2.5 times. We went to the SSGC office at Kala Board, Malir, with the complaint, but nothing came out of it.
We were almost without gas for the whole month, and yet the bill was so excessive. The SSGC officials stated that we had no option except paying the bill. The only consolation offered by them was an instalment plan to ‘facilitate’ the payment.
There was a difference of only 17 units between 173 and 190. How could there be a difference of Rs4,250 in the two bills? Be it a gas or electricity bill, there must be an image of the meter, showing the consumption of the utility. There is a meter image on February’s bill, while the image is missing on the bill for March.
In February, gas charges were Rs2,424, meter rent Rs40, general sales tax (GST) Rs426 and the total charges were Rs2,890.
In March, there were fuel charges worth Rs4,138, meter rent Rs500, GST Rs835, and adjustment charges Rs1,674, making it a total of Rs7,140.
And, by the way, when did the meter rent go up from Rs40 to Rs500? Also, we have been paying all our bills on time, so what is the logic behind the imposition of the so-called ‘adjustment charges’? How come there is such a big difference in GST in a matter of a single month?
The SSGC officials had no answer to any of these questions. All they could do was to ‘facilitate’ the payment through an instalment plan.
From our experience, it seems there is nobody to hold SSGC accountable for its actions, and it is owing to this immunity that the utility service seems to be charging exorbitant amounts from its customers without any fear at all.
MUSKAN ALI RANA