Protesters successfully negotiate cut in loadshedding hours following rally outside grid station

PESHAWAR: Protesters led by a PTI provincial lawmaker ended a protest outside Peshawar’s Rehman Baba Grid Station on Saturday after receiving assurances from the utility company that it would reduce prolonged power cuts.

The PTI MPA, Fazl Elahi, announced the end of the rally, after negotiations between the demonstrators, Assistant Commissioner Haroon Saleem and executive engineer Alam Zeb proved successful.

The protesters were assured that loadshedding would not exceed 10 hours and that feeders in the area would be supplied with adequate power. Earlier, they had threatened to enter the grid station and restore power themselves.

Police arrived on the scene to try and disperse the protesters, who threatened to take control of the station and restore the power themselves if the loadshedding continued.

Fazl Elahi said, “We will continue to protest outside the grid station unless the power is restored.” He further warned that the demonstrators would take control of the grid station if their demands were not met.

“If the matter is not resolved here, we will shut down Sheikh Muhammadi Grid station,” he threatened. “We will close the power there and cut off the electricity supply to the whole area.” The MPA said that the protesters are “demanding their rights” and urged PTI workers to “drag their MPA in front of grid stations”.

Once the negotiations were finalised, Fazl announced the end of the rally and protesters dispersed. While negotiating with Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) officials, Fazl promised to take action against power theft. “We will eradicate power theft from the neighbourhood,” he vowed.

In September last year, ministers of the caretaker government, while announcing a crackdown against electricity theft, revealed that the losses of power distribution companies (Discos) in Peshawar, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Quetta and Azad Jammu and Kashmir were as high as 60pc.

Fazl also said that he stands with the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), whom he said is “short-staffed right now”.

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