Water, power shortages hit Karachi

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Water, power shortages hit Karachi

From Salahuddin Haider Our Karachi Correspondent The city of Karachi, which is the principal revenue earner for the country, faces a severe water and power crisis which may affect its industrial output and ultimately pose problems for the country's finance managers. Officials of the electrcity supply company cited the rising fuel prices in international market as the main reason behind power cuts announced yesterday.

The authorities announced a two hour load shedding programme for different parts of the port city. Residential areas will face the shut down during daytime, and the industries at night. The present chief of the KESC, an army brigadier, explained that the organisation had a limited number of choices - either to raise the power rates, or economise on expenditure.

Most of the KESC's generating units, operate on furnace oil, whose prices have jumped by over 30 percent during the last two months.

A price war, has, in fact been raging between the two main companies, Pakistan State Oil, which is government-owned, and the Dutch Shell company, each trying to outsmart the other in their sale price for the commodity. With the result there has been a shut down of a major 250 megawatt unit at Port Bin Qasim.

But the authorities'decision to enforce a power cut has evoked a spate of criticism from industry owners, and also from politicians.

People's Party and the Muttahida Qoumi Movement, reacted angrily, suggesting that the crisis was due mainly to mismanagement, rather than proper utilisation of resources.

The MQM, was more blunt and cited figures to prove that ever since the army took over the organisation's deficits have doubled, reaching a staggering figure of Rs 13 billion this year.

They demanded that the large number of army officers and perks should immediately be withdrawn. The electric company, the Karachi Water Board, and the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, the civic agency looking after roads, hygiene and sanitation of the port city, should be returned to civilian administration forthwith, they said.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), October 06, 2000

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