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Pakistan is battling a 12-hour powercut, govt offices ordered shut for 3 days

Mohammad Bilal
Mohammad BilalJan 23, 2023 | 17:43

Pakistan is battling a 12-hour powercut, govt offices ordered shut for 3 days

Workers wait for electricity outside their workshop following a power breakdown across the country, in Lahore, Pakistan, Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. Photo: AP 

Monday Blues came in a different way for Pakistan as large parts of the country, including capital Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Quetta went into darkness because of a power grid breakdown at 7:32 am.

This is the second such incident in three months as something like this had also happened in October, 2022 in Karachi, where thousands of people were left without electricity. Not just in October, a massive power breakdown also happened in September 2021 in several areas of Karachi.

What happened? High tension electricity supply line between Quetta and Guddu caused a major power breakdown, Pakistan newspaper the Dawn reported. As a result, electricity supply to 117 grid stations was suspended.

  • The outage hit 22 districts of Balochistan. According to the Pakistan's Ministry of Energy, the system of frequency in the national grid went down at 7:34 am resulting in the widespread breakdown in the system.

Three transmission lines trip in Pakistan: The Quetta Electric Supply Company spokesperson Muhammad Afzal  told Dawn that three transmission lines  in the province -220kV UchSibbi, 220kV Dadu Khuzdar and 220kV Dera Murad Jamali, had tripped which "led to a massive power outage across Balochistan."

  • As electricity supply went off, people also had to bore the shortage of water as pumps weren't functioning. In Peshawar, residents said that they were unable to get drinking water because the pumps were powered by electricity.
    A worker of the Orange Line metro train stands next to a closing notice board at a station following a power breakdown across the country, in Lahore, Pakistan, Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. Photo: AP

     

Why there is a power crisis in Pakistan: A senior ministry official who spoke to Reuters, said that the reason why power outages trouble people of Pakistan is because of the ageing grids.

  • "There's an underlying  weakness in the system," the official said. He added that the generators are too far from the load centres and transmission lines are too long and insufficient.
  • In essence, Pakistan's grids needs infrastructure needs an overhaul which the cash-strapped country can ill-afford at this time.
  • The country has enough installed power producing capacity but it lacks the resources to run its oil and gas plants. Secondly, the sector is heavily in debt that it cannot afford to invest in infrastructure and power lines.

'Not a major issue': Pakistan's Energy Minister Khurram Dastagir said that this isn't something major, and the power grid will be restored by 10 pm.

  • Speaking to Geo News, Dastagir said that the breakdown was not major. He said that in winters, demand for electricity goes reduces nationwide, hence, as an economic measure, "we temprarily close down our power generation systems at night.
  • "Hence, when the systems were turned on in the morning today, frequency variation and voltage fluctuation was observed in the south of the country, somewhere between Dadu and Jamshoro because of which powere generating units were shut one one," he said.
  • He added that the power will be restored across the country within 12 hours.

Pakistan Parliament also to stay shut for three days: Offices of National Assembly and Senate Secretariat will remain close for three days due to a short circuit in the Parliament building, ARY news reported.

Senate Chairman, Sadiq Sanjrani and National Assembly (NA) Speaker Pervaiz Ashraf has ordered immediate precautionary measures while the concerned secretaries have been directed to take steps for the resolution of this issue.

Electricity breakdown or economic failure: The loss of power in large parts of the country also sent worrying signals to the people with many taking it as an outcome of a fragile and weak Pakistan economy, which is going down, with each passing day.

  • Journalist Owais Tauhid said that "a massive power breakdown across Pakistan raises fears of among many that a country with fragile economy is heading towards a serious energy crisis in harsh winter."

Moreover, journalist Shahbaz Rana, went on to say that "electricity breakdown is a symbol of governance breakdown and economic meltdown."

Last updated: January 23, 2023 | 17:43
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