Hundreds of power utility company employees staged a protest demonstration on Wednesday on Rawalpindi’s main artery against the proposal to privatise the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA).
Employees from the five Islamabad Electric Supply Company (IESCO) regions – Attock, Chakwal, Jehlum, Rawalpindi and Islamabad — gathered outside the Rawalpindi Press Club and chanted slogans deriding the government’s move.
Later, they marched on Benazir Bhutto Road, blocking traffic for over an hour.
Pakistan Workers Confederation (PWC) leader Muhammad Akram Bunda and other office-bearers lamented that flawed economic and social policies of the government were depriving the poor of their sources of income.
The hard-earned money of Pakistani expatriates was used to pay off debts, and now national institutions are being sold to foreigners to fill the pockets of those in the government.
Bunda pointed out that the Hydel Power Station WAPDA and Gas Fired Thermal Power Station of the Electricity Power Wing had been generating electricity at Rs1.5 and Rs6 per unit, whereas the cost of electricity being produced by thermal private and rental power houses came up to Rs16 –24 per unit.
The protesters demanded the prime minister to hold a dialogue on this issue of national importance among members of the parliament and senate and the representatives of civil society and workers organization. Failure to do so would result in an all-encompassing protest drive, they warned.
The protesters also demanded that energy theft should be made a cognisable offense meriting punishment.
“The government is unable to control power theft and soaring inflation, for which they are selling out this national institution,” said union office-bearer Javed Iqbal Baloch.
They also urged the provincial governments to implement labour laws and ensure provision of privileges to the employees, considering that they are earning billions of rupees by selling costly electricity to the people.
Baloch said the recovery of arrears and controlling line losses can only be possible if the system is modernised.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 6th, 2014.