Text of the speech of CEO Karachi Electric Supply Company in a Media Conference
Karachi: As you are aware, the basic aim and objective of the Karachi Electric Supply Company are to bring an improvement in the life of Karachi citizens in respect of power supply. The electricity, one of the basic needs of our life, is undoubtedly very important for the economy of the country in general and for Karachi in particular. If we have been supplying uninterrupted power to around 45,000 industrial units of Karachi under an unambiguous policy, this brings a positive impact on the lives of millions of those labourers who work in these factories. If we have exempted the low loss residential areas from load shedding, where we have been able to control the issues of illegal use of electricity and non-payment of bills to a great extent, that offers us enough revenue to buy oil and gas and to serve those areas where more than 50 per cent of the supplied electricity is stolen. If we supply non-stop electricity to various defence installations, hospitals and water pumps, we fulfil our national responsibilities. The crux of the matter is that despite of being a private entity, we are fully aware of our public service role and work day and night to accomplish our targets.
Without making any tall claims over our performance, I would like to say that only until 10 days ago, the overall electricity supply situation in Karachi was quite satisfactory. In comparison to the previous years as well as to the scene of other areas of the country, our performance was improving even further by the grace of God. Our worst enemies also admitted this fact, even though it was done inside closed doors.
As a matter of fact, the population of Karachi is simply concerned about three areas of our performance: reduction in load shedding, decrease in power tariff, and, better quality of customers’ service. During the past two and a half years, since the present administration took over the KESC affairs, with the investment of 600 million dollars, we have increased power generation capacity by over 400 megawatts, installed eight new grid stations, established 250 new feeders and put up over 1000 new PMTs Pakistan’s largest under-construction power house, our upcoming prime 560 MWs Bin Qasim Power Station-II, would hopefully start producing electricity this year. These solid ground realities cannot be denied at any cost. I would like to reiterate here that total elimination of load shedding is quite possible in Karachi if fuel is regularly supplied and the issues of illegal use of electricity and non-payment of bills are resolved once and for all. We have the basic infrastructure. What is required now is a total change in approach, under which all the stakeholders including the government, political parties and media may cooperate with us and support this national service institution.
Very few persons might know our internal difficulties under which we have been continuing to maintain the power supply system. For example, during the whole of past month, we worked day and night to keep the lights of the City on despite of the worst shortfall of gas and furnace oil. If we did not care about the inhabitants of Karachi, perhaps all of us would have faced a hard crisis last month. We chose to carry out our responsibilities at all costs and we, I and my team, do not expect any applauds for that. But this is also our job to inform you about the factual situation. Honestly, I feel the pain more than anyone else when power tariff goes up. However, if the government does not have money to provide subsidy to the citizens, and we have to buy four times expensive furnace oil to run our generation plants in case of shortage of gas, unfortunately, the already hard pressed consumers have to suffer this burden. Therefore, our demand is to increase gas supply to KESC in order to control the load shedding as well as to arrest tariff hike. On the other hand, we also demand of the government to continue providing subsidy to the lower and lower-middle income group of the citizens to help them survive economic difficulties.
As we have already disclosed, we have been working on a plan to regularly import LNG as an alternate fuel source. We are also progressing over a project to convert our oil-fired power plants to coal fire. Work is underway in Landhi to produce electricity from bio-gas. But all these projects require millions of dollars, and, about 1.5 to 2 years time. At the same time, if one or the other important personality keeps issuing an irresponsible statement every second day over the topic of privatization, then we should not expect help from all those internal and external investors and monetary institutions whom we have a habit to criticize. I would like to advise all those people who have one or more reasons to oppose us on ideological or any other grounds, to divert their energies and efforts to improve the working conditions of national and State-run institutions like PIA, Steel Mills and Railways. They need to let us perform our job with sincerity and honesty. This will benefit all stakeholders.
We need to keep in mind that the strength of our institutions alone would strengthen our country and our economy. To accomplish this task, we need to take tough decisions and swallow bitter pills. This is a responsibility of the State and the Government to provide jobs to the jobless. This needs an overall atmosphere where internal and external investors and financial institutions are attracted to invest into projects and factories and the jobless may get jobs to construct and run these projects. Common wisdom prohibits us from sinking a ship by loading it with double capacity passengers. It would be suicidal to allow 100 persons to mount a boat which has a room for just 50 persons. Besides, this is not quite a public affair as to how do we reconstitute our institution internally, how many departments are functioning, and how many persons are employed where. The general public is only concerned about supply of electricity, power tariff and our performance. All our good customers have a right to put us to accountability in that respect. Having said that, I must clarify here that we are not working against the interests of our work force. All our latest actions are fully in line with law of the land and moral ethics. This is the same management which signed an agreement with CBA Union last year, something that could happen after a gap of not less than 11 years. Under that agreement, we regularized the services of 6,500 employees, increased salaries by 20 to 25 per cent, and also granted many perks and privileges to the deserving.
By doing that, we did not oblige any internal or external force, nor were we under any pressure or facing any intervention. We did it simply because it was right to do so. Undoubtedly, there have been a lot of loopholes inside the KESC that continue for a long time now. When we search our own souls, we see much room for improvement. We have now decided to make KESC an effective and active institution, where all including myself, would see the guarantee of their services in their qualification, ability and honesty, and nothing else. This is not a “country club” where people should be provided jobs generation after generation, with no accountability at all.
This is a conflict between two different thoughts. One line of thinking is based on the demand of the people of Karachi who want us to improve our performance in respect of power production and distribution and take all the required steps to collectively benefit the institution as well as the Metropolis. The opposing line of thinking is resisting this positive change and creating hurdles in its way. This mindset is a prisoner of the past; oblivious of the fact that time has travelled fast into the future. Although some persons call this institution their “mother” but in practice they have been taking all steps to weaken its foundations. The circumstances that you have observed during the past about 10 days or so are a demonstration of this conflict of two opposing minds. That is the basic issue. To compromise is very easy. Conformity is a great policy too. But who would face the results then? Nobody but the people of Karachi!
I may ask, how could a civilized society allow a dialogue with the few miscreants who have been sabotaging the KESC’s infrastructure under a well-planned conspiracy, who have been forcefully closing down our offices, who have been beating up our fearless and brilliant co-workers who insisted upon working, who reached their homes and threatened their families, who have openly been violating the orders of NIRC and Sindh High Court, and who are exceeding all limits of law and morality; above all, who have been putting the general public of Karachi into great trouble. If, for a moment, we accept that there exists any conflict between the management and a group of employees of the KESC, still there is no justification for the general public to suffer for that. Why the sub-stations are being put on fire which are there only to serve us. Why the cables supplying electricity are being cut off. They have been doing all this to exploit the “weakness” of the management which does not want to make the general public suffer. They are taking advantage of it. Here I would like to appreciate and salute all those officers and employees of the KESC who have been risking their lives by performing their duties to serve the consumers in such difficult conditions. We are proud of them and actually these people are the assets of this institution. This is our responsibility to care more about them.
I am also grateful to the Honourable Governor and Honourable Chief Minister of Sindh and the law enforcement agencies who have seen the truth and who have been cooperating with us. No one can allow certain people to paralyze KESC and the whole City. I apologize to all of our good consumers on behalf of KESC, who have been facing difficulties for the past quite a few days. I assure them that we are fully aware of their issues and we are taking all steps to normalize the matters against all odds. By the grace of God, we are confident that we shall cross this testing hour triumphantly with their cooperation and blessings. We are confident that our tomorrow would be much better than our today.
I have constituted an “HR Committee” to find solution to the existing issue, and resolve genuine demands or complaints if any. We do not have an ego problem. We are here to take this institution forward. Through the media, I would like to send my message to all those core employees who have been misguided temporarily, to return to their work immediately and receive the blessings of their consumers. Their loyalties only need to be connected to this institution and the population of Karachi. I also invite the certified and law abiding labour leaders to play their due role at this time for bringing the things back to normal level, and sit down with the HR Committee for finding out a solution to the issues that is based on ground realities and it works in the interest of the KESC as well as the citizens of Karachi. There would be no compromise on principles. Issues would only be resolved either through negotiations or inside the courts, and not on streets or by creating hardships for the general public.
For more information, contact:
Assistant Manager, Media and PR
Karachi Electric Supply Company Limited (KESC)
2nd Floor, State Life Building No 11,
Abdullah Haroon Road, Saddar, Karachi
Tel: +9221 9920 7163
Cell: +92346 822 3641