Energy woes: time to look for viable solution

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Our energy woes are no secret. On the one hand, we have been facing increased energy prices during the last many years while on the other hand, the uncertainty on supply side is further exacerbating the issue to unbearable extent.

In fact, the main reason behind the ever-increasing electricity and gas prices is the low availability of these two utilities as compared to the rising demands of these two products, mainly during peak demand seasons. Not only the masses are faced with the dilemma of high energy charges, their unavailability is also an issue due to which the masses endure long spells of electricity load -shedding across the country while the industrial sector is also in fix as its working is badly affected by power shutdowns due to which they are unable to meet their productions targets.

Same is the case with gas supply in the country. While in summer, people face electricity woes, in winter, gas becomes a rare commodity with problems likes  extreme low pressure and gas load shedding across the country.

For instance, the country’s mega industrial city which is the economic Karachi is subjected to not only low gas pressure but also long spells of gas load shedding in winter during the last many years. And even in summers, the pressure is low for hours in some localities not enough to cook food or run the industrial units.

Not only the gas load shedding and low pressures are the issues, the prices of gas have multiplied in recent years and masses find it difficult to pay the bills. In this backdrop, the recent decision by the Sindh and Punjab government to come up with energy conservation steps is a welcome development. As reported, under this plan the early closure of all business centres, shopping malls, retail malls, wedding halls, and other similar establishments have been directed to strictely adhere to early closure schedule of 9 p.m.

Some basic necessities like the milk shops, pharmacies, hospitals, petrol pump and bakeries have been exempted but overall, the decision is for all the business establishments. Credit goes to the Sindh government which took the lead by making the strategy effective  from Saturday last by closing all commercial centers and retail malls early at night.  Initially, this closure has been announced for a month but it seems that it may be extended in future with some modifications to suit the needs of the masses.

After Sindh, Punjab has also followed the suit and has decided for early closure of business centres and shops at night. The federal capital Islamabad Administration has gone a step forward and has imposed section 144 in the capital to make the early closures of business centres  and malls effective. While the Sindh and Punjab governments decisions are for a month, Islamabad administration says it will remain in force in the capital city for two months. Our energy woes are getting worse with the passage of every day.

During summer season, the demand for electricity is at peak while in winter the gas demand is very high. And to bridge this gap, the government often resorts to load shedding of these two utilities, which make life miserable for the masses both in winter and in summer.

Since our resources to produce more electricity and explore more gas and oil are dwindling and the oil prices are very high due to which the power generating units cannot be run as the cost is unbearable.

However, a little bit lifestyle changes marked by ‘early rise in the morning and early going to bed’ can help save a lot of energy as in this way, we can avail the sunlight during day for carrying out our daily chores and running our businesses in day light, lessening the burden on the electricity resources of the country. Some people think that these steps may not help overcome the crisis but the fact is that every step has to be ensured whether big or small to conserve energy because we have to work very hard to overcome the country’s energy issue. Various small steps together can help overcome the crisis to some extent.

However, the business community is not happy with this decision and they have termed it a hasty step which will badly impact their businesses and commercial acidities in these days of inflation and price-hike. They termed it ironical for the government to continue with their plan of long spells of load shedding during day-time despite early closures of markets at night.

They demanded undisrupted supply of electricity to people and to industrial units during the entire day so that they can meet their production orders, otherwise, the decision of early closure will not make a difference, they bemoan.

They want an assurance on compete end to power outages after limiting markets hours and their demand sounds reasonable. They say that in summer most of the people opt for shopping after sunset and by early closures the sales will be affected while the daily wagers working till late night in markets will lose their jobs.

They termed as a mini lockdown on the lines of corona lockdown which will badly suffer the business activities across the big cities where the day time scorching heat will shy away the shoppers, the traders say.  In the wake of the unrest among business community, the wise for the government would be to invite them for negotiations and take them into confidence as our business community is already faced with enormous problems and the wise thing would be listen to them as they are the major stake-holders.

It may be mentioned here that the previous government of  PTI also ignored the business community issues which deterred our business growth. What is needed is that the current government should not repeat the mistakes and blunders as also the U-turns taken of the previous government and instead should listen to the stakeholders to come to a viable solution.