KESC’s affairs

KESC’s shareholders want answers and understandably so. The utility’s management was bombarded with questions at its annual general meeting on Monday as investors wanted to know the reasons behind the electricity company’s dismal performance and demanded an explanation about certain financial anomalies. The shareholders reflect the concerns of Karachi’s power consumers. Topping the agenda was why KESC has failed to provide uninterrupted power supply to the city.

The meeting was told that the utility’s power generation capacity had decreased by 4.62 per cent, while there had been an increase in transmission and distribution losses over the previous year. If these are official figures, one wonders how high the actual ones are. What also irked shareholders was the KESC CEO’s reported hotel bill of Rs9m when the company maintains an official residence.

This sad saga of ineptitude is becoming too familiar. Things were not perfect when KESC was privatised in 2005, yet it seems that the situation has gone from bad to worse. Memories of the summer of discontent, when Karachi suffered from crippling blackouts in June and July 2009, are still fresh. For its part, the utility’s management has claimed that ‘influential’ people and government departments are involved in power theft. There is certainly some truth to this. Many ordinary citizens too indulge in power theft. But merely complaining about this practice is not enough. Action needs to be taken soon. KESC and the government must chalk out an effective plan to eliminate or at least minimise power theft. The government should start the campaign by disciplining its own errant departments. KESC also needs to set its house in order. All the electricity in the world will not end the power crisis until transmission and distribution losses, currently estimated at 36 per cent, are contained.

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