KESC: ANOTHER WHITE ELEPHANT
August 05, 2011
The KESC (Karachi Electric Supply Company) has tasked the poor masses as being the cause of all the morbidity of electric load shedding; despite the fact that the company itself was taking no serious steps for ameliorating the issue of its sacked employees, nor was it taking any positive steps for ameliorating the morbidity of plunging the Metropolis into abyss of darkness. All along this, federal and Provincial government are also busy putting their whatever share into miseries over 200 million hapless masses, just over some very petty political expediencies, sheer ineptness or even maybe a well-planned anarchy. Administration simply has no strategy to solve any crisis related to loadshedding, pouring oil over already simmering flames. Roads of Karachi, already clogged with traffic jams are witnessing almost daily riots protesting over load shedding. Electricity crisis has given birth to water crisis, and both these crisis of water and electricity has created a bulk of psychological problems for the masses.
After prolonged talks and dialogues, the KESC administration has finally signed a deal demands with sacked employees on 26th July, in presence of commissioner and additional IG Sindh, agreeing with some of their demands, and signing a written accord, which agreed to act on High Court verdicts, and nobody would be forcibly terminated. It was also decided that all employees would be paid their salaries well before Ramadan. On the occasion, the Commissioner Karachi, Muhammad Hussain said that Karachi’s electricity problem was quite complicated and system of KESC was in jeopardy. He said that Governor Sindh had given a patient and prudent ear to problems of both warring groups, while both sides had displayed a responsible attitude, and employees would start attending the offices, which had also started functioning.
After these good inklings, the citizens of Karachi heaved a sigh of relief over possible end to the cold war between KESC administration and sacked employees. But alas! After the accord, between these two warring elements, a new problem took its toll; before the patch-up, Karachi was undergoing loadshedding of 6 to 8 hours, and this has rather increased. Besides Governor Sindh had /has also directed for control over load shedding in the holy month of Ramadan; especially at Sehri, Iftar and prayer times. But KESC has simply brushed aside these directives and carries on with its obdurate policy of continuous load shedding even during Ramadan. An increase of approximately half hour of loadshedding, alongwith a string of new additional schedules in both daylight and night times. Meanwhile despite of KESC being indebted to SSGPL, the Sindh government has also directed for better gas supply for citizens, following which SSGPL is endeavoring its best efforts to increase gas supply for KESC, which has been increased from previous supply of 150 MMCFD to 160 MMCFD. Unfortunately despite all these best efforts, and possibility of disbursement of Rs 3 billion to purchase furnace oil, things have still taken turn for worse.
Meanwhile alongwith all other aspects, the recently signed accord between KESC administration and labor elements, rife with surfacing controversies is in danger of being jeopardized. Old disputes and controversies thought to be ended are still ebbing with problems and controversies. The tensions between administration and unions were still simmering until as late as Thursday evening, as labor leaders were busy plotting new strategies to deal with situations. One of the most common complaints of labor is that the accord of 26th July was yet fresh, when a new controversy erupted, as KESC started violating the accord itself. In a press release issued to media on the evening of 26th July, according to which it was announced that 150 points did not augur uniformity and were not conducive. It had been decided that non-technical surplus employees would not be given their previous duties, but they still could register their attendance at their offices. However KESC administration’s press release also announced that until the reconciliation committee reached any fixed conclusion, all these non-technical surplus employees offered VSS would be absolved of attending their duties. Special E-mails transmitted to KESC offices stressed to carry out the orders of administration, of not allowing returning (surplus) employees to mark their attendance in official registers.
According to an activist employee, such employees were permitted to register their attendances, but rather on a blank chit, instead of official attendance registers, and such a record would never make it to official approval of any salaries. Thus the seeds of discord were again planted by KESC administration, and things have reverted to same old situation, rife with controversies. This meant that salaries would never be paid as promised in an accumulated manner. During the ongoing spate of worst loadsheddings in Karachi, none of faults have been able to be rectified, as KESC severely lacks appropriate staff and relevant vehicles at its various locations. Complain centers have their phone lines disconnected.
According to sources the accord also stressed formation of a Dispute Resolution committee (DRC), comprising of KESC administration, civil administration and labor union, and would resolve all disputes, including the one relating to these 284 employees, who were dismissed due to protest movements. But this committee has as yet failed to function, and it seems that KESC administration was again shoving the issue towards yet another confrontation. One such glaring example is the recent incident as 16 vehicles were taken from KESC workshop and handed over to a private transport company. Such attitude of KESC is wont to resurfacing of another spate of protests and sit-ins. Chairman labor union Ikhlaq Khan informed commissioner about such violations in written, and a new spate of talks and meetings continued as far as Thursday morning. Governor Sindh also became active in the issue; hence all carries a slight ray of hope that things might take turn for better.
KESC flatly denies spoiling the broth, and rather stressed that the company was fully abiding by all clauses of the accord. The administration also denied all complains about attendances being carried out on plain chits, and insists that attendance procedures were being carried out officially.