The Karachi police on Tuesday used tear gas and baton-charged protesting residents of Lyari near the Mauripur road, who took to the streets against K-Electric for carrying out unannounced and prolonged loadshedding and frequent breakdowns.
The demonstrators, who have been protesting since last night, burnt tyres and blocked the road — which links the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) and SITE industrial areas.
However, at 11 am today, the police baton-charged the protesters after they refused to vacate the main road. Footage showed police commandos firing tear gas at the demonstrators who were chanting slogans against the power utility management and demanding restoration of supply.
According to Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Asif Bughio, the residents dispersed for a while after the police action but resumed the protest shortly after.
Electricity in several areas of Lyari, particularly the one adjacent to Mauripur road, has been suspended since 4 pm on Monday, he said.
“Due to prolonged disruption in the power supply, hundreds of residents blocked the road for hours,” the officer said, adding that the police tried to negotiate with them but they attacked the law enforcers with stones.
Bughio said that they have reached out to the KE management to “placate” the protesters and prevent the situation from escalating. He added that their first priority was to resolve the issue through talks.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the traffic police said that the protest had created an immense traffic load near the Jinnah Bridge and MT Khan Road.
PTI leaders criticised the police action, with former federal minister Fawad Chaudhry chiding the PPP-led Sindh government that “they are your own people”.Separately, protests against water shortages were also reported from other parts of the metropolis early on Tuesday morning. According to traffic police, the residents of Liaquatabad’s Dak Khana, Shah Faisal Colony 2 and Kala Pul took to the streets.
In the wee hours of the day, a large number of Lines Areas residents also came out on main Sharea Faisal and blocked the key road near Gora Qabristan.
They blamed the KE for keeping their supply off for 13 hours. Shouting slogans against the power utility management and demanding restoration of their supply, the protest caused a traffic jam on one track of the arterial Sharea Faisal.
People were facing 12 to 14 hours of power outages in extremely hot weather, which had made their lives miserable.
Yesterday, residents from Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Surjani Town, New Karachi, Federal B. Area, F. C Area, Burnes Road, Defence Housing Authority, Clifton, Baldia Town, Manghopir, Orangi Town, Landhi, Shah Faisal Colony, Model Colony, Shaheed-i-Millat Road, Khokhrapar, PECHS, Mehmoodabad, and Defence View apartments said that the KE was carrying out unannounced loadshedding for hours in their areas.
Students taking intermediate examinations were also affected by the prolonged loadshedding as they had to take their papers in hot and humid weather. They were also unable to prepare for their exams because of multiple spells of loadshedding during the day and at night.
Meanwhile, Aslam Pakhali, chairman of the All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association (PFVA), said that more than 100 containers carrying mangoes and potatoes worth an estimated Rs250 million were stuck in traffic since Monday evening.
The vehicles were enroute KPT but have been stranded near the Mauripur Road due to protests.
“These fruits and vegetables are of perishable nature, especially given to the high temperature in the city,” Pakhali said.
He urged the Sindh government to immediately complete negotiations with the protesters, warning that delays will lead to huge losses for exporters.