KARACHI: K-Electric chief executive on Monday left a hearing on public complaints against the metropolis’ sole power supplier when the event turned chaotic as angry citizens raised chants over not being allowed to speak and the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority’s (NEPRA) boss momentarily adjourning the discussions.
Organised by the NEPRA at a local hotel in Karachi, the hearing was attended by many, including people associated with different industries, various stakeholders, and officials of the K-Electric. Industrialist Siraj Qasim Teli was also spotted in the audience.
According to activist Jibran Nasir, the hearing’s focus was to decide on “whether to end K-Electric’s exclusive rights to distribute electricity to Karachi and allow other players to compete in the market given KE’s failure to ensure safe and uninterrupted supply of electricity to Karachi”.
When a participant raised a question, NEPRA Chairperson Tauseef H. Farooqi said the K-Electric would be given a chance to speak first and present the company’s position, which exacerbated the resentment among the Karachiites who were present at the hearing to speak about their power woes.
Chants against the K-Electric rang out loud in the hearing — which Farooqi subsequently adjourned hearing for 30 minutes — while K-Electric CEO Syed Moonis Abdullah Alvi left in a hurry after the NEPRA boss warned anyone not speaking in an orderly manner be kicked out of the hall.
The public outcry was strong, turning the hearing bitter and leading to harsh exchange of words between those at the panel and the aggrieved participants.
The citizens at the hearing started protesting, saying their time had been wasted as they were called to the talks but not heard. “If our concerns are not being heard here, then why was this hearing scheduled today,” asked one participant.
Speaking to the media later, K-Electric CFO Aamir Ghaziani said the NEPRA organised the hearing “in the public interest”.
“We also want to talk about the public interest,” Ghaziani told the media. He said some 40% of Karachi were unplanned and recovery from these areas was therefore “very difficult”.
“We are providing electricity to neighbourhoods that are proper [in terms of planning], as well as areas that are exempted,” he added. “We were given time until 2023 in our license.”
—Additional reporting by Sanovia Chaudhry