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Citizen Voices

Load Shedding| Shortages, Mismanagement & Lack Of Skilled Labour

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Almost all of us are exhausted by never-ending load shedding. In the times when sun is nearly setting us humans, animals, and non-livings on fire; shutdown of electric power is the last nail in the coffin. Temperature of Islamabad is not lowering either – ranging 37°C to 43°C. Amid the soaring temperatures, electricity shortfall has swelled to a maximum level. Citizens are frustrated and thus angry over power suppliers.

Islamabad electric supply company IESCO was established in 1998 to take over the assets, functions and responsibilities of the erstwhile Islamabad Area Electricity Board, which was then a division of Water & Power Development Authority (WAPDA). IESCO’s core function is to supply, distribute, and sell power (electricity) in the area from Attock to Jhelum, and from the river Indus to River Neelum in Kashmir.

It services 3.2 million consumers directly, but touches the lives of more than 25 million people living in the 6 districts depending on its services somehow.

While being aware of the fact that Pakistan is not producing energy as per demand or supply, it is criminal negligence on part of the management to not seek sustainable solutions.

Energy shortfall is a genuine issue but human resource is yet another.

Next time you call IESCO to fix your electricity and they are late, don’t blame/abuse them. One man is doing the duty of 10 persons all by himself without even proper personal equipment. A line man is an asset to the power supplier house, said an old line man. While talking to him I’ve realized how vulnerable they are. As he said, ‘for lightning up your houses most of us have lost our body parts if we are lucky, otherwise our lives.’ Practically, there is no concept of job description as an employee no matter what sector or seat he is assigned to. He has to perform as many tasks as possible while vacancies remain unfilled and skilled people getting retired.

Low quality of equipment, less manpower, farflung postings, and financial issues add to mental and psychological stress of available employees. Their duty hours are undefined, sometimes 24/7, and their numerous safety issues are neglected. A man with the confidence of a lion said, “if this status quo is not ratified with productive changes sooner than later, the bulbs of your homes will be out of light because WE SHINE YOU.”

The need to develop this department is essential. Many people come on employee  son’s quota. Which means their lack of education or training makes them vulnerable to electricity. They are indirectly at risk to their consumers too. Indeed, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Proper vocational trainings and diploma courses should be the modus operandi. While increase in induction is crucial, poper safety kits are important as it is a matter of human lives. Updated software and systems are required to get out of the ancient paper system. (This will save papers, energy, and time too). Scholarships for employees to get higher education or research work will contribute to innovation hence creating ease for both suppliers and consumers.

Currently in IESCO, there are only 1.37 percent women. Participation of women -making up half the population of Pakistan –  will be a positive step to better service provision. To increase women employability, gender sensitive policies are needed. Separate restrooms, prayer rooms, day care centers, transportation and increased quota will attract a women labour force to this very department. Another way is to collaborate with universities to induct electrical engineers (for technical seats) and from other disciplines, as well as interns – training and hiring them. Gender related trainings will help male and female to sensitize employees and consequently, will help in more recruitment of women.

All of these baby steps would supply a much needed change in the power supply department and in the lives of customers.

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Naya Daur