‘KESC situation portrays ugliest picture of power system in city’

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“The ongoing tussle between the Abraaj Capital-led Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) management and over 4,000 employees is expected to turn into an ugly picture of the power system in the city,” said KESC Shareholders Association General Secretary Chaudhry Mazhar Ali in an exclusive interview with Pakistan Today. Ali said that as the management is reluctant to show any flexibility in its attitude, despite the grave situation of power, the worst situation of power supply looms over the city.
He said that though both parties are responsible for the present situation, the management being the administrator of the company is more responsible for the severe power breakdowns.
“Even those employees who want to avail the Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS) of the power company do not trust the management because it has rejected almost 70 applications of employees who had applied for the scheme,” he added.
When asked why the issue was still unresolved, he said, “Enjoying the support of some influential persons in the ruling party and the government, the KESC management has become so powerful that even the ruling of the Senate’s standing committee is being ignored by the power company’s chief operating officer, saying that he is not answerable to the committee.”
Ali said that the employees’ issue is not so big, but it has become so due to the negligence of the management as there are workers who are ready to avail the VSS facility, given the surety that they would be provided with the promised package without any delay and not as instalments.
He said that there were 15,000 workers when the power company was being privatised and the current number of employees is the same. “This number could have easily been reduced if the new appointments, especially on political grounds, had been avoided by the management in the past five years as almost 5,000 employees have retired so far since 2005 when the company was sold,” he added.
To a question, he said that though the financial position of the company has improved with enhanced recovery of over 25 percent, no improvement in the distribution, generation and transmission network has been achieved.
He said, “Though the company was privatised with the aim that the institution will be more functional with improved system through foreign investment, the foreign firm is treated like a stepmother.”
The company was sold with zero dues, but has indebted over Rs 150 billion in the last five years, he added.
He said that though the power company is collecting huge sums of money as tariff from over two million consumers, the KESC is not paying its dues to the Sui Southern Gas Company, the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) and the independent power producers among others.
Besides, due to the favourable attitude of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority, billions of rupees in terms of subsidies and fuel adjustment charges are being collected both from the government and the consumers respectively, he added.
Ali said that the KESC has drastically reduced the power generating capacity from its dual-fuelled plants at Bin Qasim and is relying only on power generated through gas and that which is supplied by WAPDA.
Besides, due to the non-technical directors heading various technical departments, the faults in the distribution and transmission system have also multiplied, causing further power breakdowns, he added.
He said that in an overt violation of Pakistan Engineering Council Act 1976, some “non-engineer” officials are heading or controlling the various departments of the power utility.
He added that the management is deliberately prolonging the current tussle to supply minimum electricity while saving more fuel.