Who has an answer to my question?

June 24, 2007 at 3:13 pm 8 comments

I was feeling a little under the weather and so decided to come home around 3:30 pm yesterday to get some rest. Little did I know what awaited me. At exactly 4 pm, KESC decided to shut off the power and at around 4:30 a windstorm the likes of which I haven’t ever seen in Karachi, lashed the city. This was followed by rain. One of the tallest trees in our garden (planted by my nephew 12 years ago) broke in half and fell on the gate. Fortunately no-one was hurt. This is just one of many stories from across the city – hoardings falling, trees being uprooted and of course drains being blocked and power being put off. Over 44 people killed, hundreds injured.
In one statement, KESC said that the grids were turned off as a precautionary measure. In another, they claimed that one of the major feeders caught fire. Whatever the story, no-one at KESC was answering the complaints number.

Our UPS survived 7 hours after which it gave up so I turned on the generator which only lasted two hours because the chowkidaar had forgotten to refill it with fuel. Somehow from 1 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. we survived on rechargeable lights and fans after which I had to venture out to get more fuel. My father was upset that I was going out at that hour but I didn’t have an option since there was no-one else who could do it.

We are now into our 23rd hour without electricity with no inkling as to when the power will be back. The refrigerators are off as are the Air conditioners because our generator can only support lights and fans and my Mac (thank God). There is no cold water to quench my thirst.

But as I sit here whining, I wonder how the majority of people in the city who have no UPS and no generator are managing to cope. Much as we may complain about the power riots and people setting tyres on fire or pelting cars, can we really understand how it feels to be without power and water for hours and days? Two people in my neighbourhood have died today. An announcement was being made earlier. I wonder if it was because of the heat or perhaps an accident caused by electrical cables lying around on the streets or collapsing walls or a falling tree or hoarding?

Who do we take to task? Can we sue KESC? If we do, will it be any use except to make some lawyers richer and to cause ourselves further aggravation? The government tells us that the problems of this city are severe and cannot be dealt with in the short term. This particular government has been in power for almost 8 years. Granted the City Government has done some work on the infrastructure and the flyovers and underpasses have eased the traffic situation a bit (when the underpasses are not underwater that is). Previous governments have made promises but never kept them. Where do the citizens go for answers to their grievances? Or don’t they count?

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Shortage of ideas? Watch out – growth doesn’t mean forgetting the rules

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. kinkminos  |  June 24, 2007 at 6:57 pm

    This is one of the few instances that make me feel good about living out here in this dusty backwater.

    My mother came out here on Friday afternoon. I’m grateful that she was spared the deluge (and consequent suffering).

    Reply
  • 2. kinkminos  |  June 24, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    My sympathies are with you and everybody suffering in Scratchy City sans generators and row boats.
    (I’m finding it hard to feel upset about the a/c in my office not performing to the max.)

    Reply
  • 3. Jehan  |  June 24, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    I know what you mean. I have been thinking, since yesterday, that if my mother were still with us, she would never have been able to bear this level of torture. We are into our 28th hour without power. I just went out to get some groceries and, having spotted a KESC truck, I actually pursued it. Having caught up with them, I asked how much longer it would be before we got power back. One of the men had the audacity to tell me that I needed to be ‘patient’ – that they were working on restoring it. I have never felt as violent as I did at that moment but I kept my anger in check and asked him what the hitch was. He said they were fixing some problem in the transformer and we should have the power back in a very little while. That is the best I could get out of him. Now all I can do is hope that we will have our ACs on tonight so that I can get a good night’s rest before the beginning of what promises to be another hectic week.

    Reply
  • 4. Jawwad, Desi Back to Desh  |  June 24, 2007 at 9:51 pm

    Jehan

    It took us two and a half hour to make it home yesterday since we got caught on the road in the rain storm that hit Karachi. When we got home we had three sick kids, with high fever, who were lying listless because of the heat and no water (apparantely you need power to pump the water to your overhead tank). We finally left home and moved into my office where we have been living for the last 24 hours. Atleast we had the option. My parents on the other hand have decided to stick it out at home. My driver has a wife in full term and I just shudder to think what he is going through.

    KESC’s primarily problem is that we have sat on its problems for the last two decades. Now they have come home to roost. In our urgency to give away this crown jewel (a little satire goes a long way), we didn’t do the due deligence on the incentive or compentency of the buyers. The buyers have put in an iddly piddly 100 million dollars and are trying to borrow the rest. And in the mean time if the city goes to hell, well, its the city’s problem.

    Is the solution reversion back to the status quo. I am not sure, since it will lead to the same bullshit for the next two decades. A class action suit against KESC won’t help since it is financially bankrupt, but you can certainly pursue SEIMENS as well as the Saudi Arabian buyers as well as our friends HASSAN Associates, of this most beloved of govt entity in their home countries.

    I think a reading of Germany’s graft laws as well as the ability to sue a German corporation for crime committed overseas is in order. Of all these worthy lawyers out there, is anyone willing to rise to the cause.

    Reply
  • 5. Jehan  |  June 25, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    Jawwad, like you, many of my neighbours migrated to other parts of the city last night – those who had an option. I didn’t because my father just wouldn’t hear of it. So we spent another night filling up the generator until the pump nearby ran out of fuel … arghhh! Anyway, the good news is that after 44 hours we finally have the power back. The UPS is being recharged as are the rechargeable fans and the water motor has pumped water into the upper tank … and once more life is ‘normal’ – with only 200 people dead and loads of them injured – with no-one to hold to account.

    Reply
  • 6. kinkminos  |  June 25, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    If I were you I’d crank up the stereo, cue the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan’s The Sky Is Crying, then crank it up to the max, cue his Texas Flood, and then finally reduce the volume to human levels and play “Rim Jhim Giray Saavan” and hope the atmosphere (inside one’s own head at least) settles down.

    Of course there’s always the option of drowning one’s sorrows in the Overload CD.

    Reply
  • 7. Jehan  |  June 26, 2007 at 7:32 am

    🙂 Well the saga continues. Power came back for 2 hours and then went away again for 10 hours. Finally got it back at 1:15 this morning and so far we have been allowed to recharge everything – including ourselves to some extent

    Reply
  • 8. kinkminos  |  June 26, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    It seems more is set to hit later today. My prayers (for what they’re worth) and sympathies are with my fellow Scratchy-ites.

    Reply

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