Riled over outages: Protesters run riot in different cities

Monday, June 4th, 2012 3:30:37 by



KARACHI: 

Amidst rising temperatures, the frequency and durations of power outages continued to increase, triggering street protests in different towns and cities of the country on Sunday.

In Karachi, protesters turned violent and ransacked the offices of the power utility. Situation in Punjab was not different where irate consumers set up roadblocks and stoned offices of power companies.

Karachi

At least four vehicles including two trucks of the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) were set on fire, with the company’s office also coming under attack on the second consecutive day of violent protests in different neighbourhoods of Karachi.

Another vehicle was set ablaze by protesters in Korangi against continuous power outages and water shortage.

In Liaquatabad, dozens of people, including women and children, came out on the streets against a ‘three-day long’ power outage. The protesters burnt tyres on the roads, causing an hours-long traffic logjam on Shara-e-Pakistan. Vehicles were attacked and destroyed and some protesters also fired gunshots into the air.

Paramilitary Rangers was called in to help police officials quell the rioting. Police used tear gas to disperse the protesters. In response, the mob pelted law enforcers with stones.

Meanwhile, a truck and a rickshaw were set on fire near Al Karam Square. Protesters attacked the KESC office in the FC area — torching two company trucks parked outside.

Super Market DSP Wajahat Hussain told The Express Tribune that the photomultiplier tube (PMT) of the area was damaged when a fire broke out accidently three days ago, which caused the massive power failure. He added that power supply was restored by the KESC early on Sunday but the residents continued to face outages after two hours of the restoration which triggered the protest.

Unpaid bills

KESC’s administration said that residents of Al-Karam Square and Apsara Apartment in Liaquatabad were not paying bills and have defaulted up to Rs400 million. The company said power supply would not be restored until the dues were paid.

Similarly in Korangi, residents of Noorani Basti staged a protest and blocked the road while stoning vehicular traffic. Violent protesters also set a truck on fire.

Meanwhile, citizens of Kandhkot, Tangwani, Gauspur and other adjoining areas staged demonstrations against frequent power outages in the area on Sunday.

Traders also joined the protests during which the Indus Highway was blocked, disrupting traffic to and from Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab.

Faisalabad

In Faisalabad, the Factory Area police registered cases against 250 unidentified people for ransacking and damaging public property, aerial firing and stone throwing on buildings.

The cases were registered on the complaint of Sub Inspector Riaz Ahmad, who alleged that about 250 unidentified men staged a demonstration against power outages at T-Chowk on Friday and damaged public property. He said the mob turned violent and created panic in the area by resorting to aerial firing and damaging public and private properties including signboards, flexes and traffic signals. No arrests have been made so far.

Bahawalpur

Perennial bouts of electricity outages adversely affected consumers and businesses alike in Bahawalpur as well.

Power outages of 18 hours a day have disrupted life for residents who are pointing towards the government for subjecting them to this torture. Irregular voltage and periodic electricity fluctuation continued throughout the weekend.

Meanwhile, relative calm prevailed in Islamabad and Rawalpindi where no protests against power shortage was recorded on Sunday.

(With additional reporting by our correspondents in Faisalabad and Bahawalpur)

Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2012.



Islamabad News Sources -2

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