Ten of millions without power in Pakistan as national grid fails | Pakistan

Tens of millions of people in Pakistan have been left without electricity as the power ministry reported a second “major breakdown” of the national grid in three months.

Factories, hospitals and schools across the country were without power for hours on Monday after a voltage fluctuation in the grid occurred between the cities of Jamshoro and Dadu in southern Sindh province, power minister Khurram Dastgir said.

“There was a fluctuation in voltage and the systems were shut down one by one. This is not a major crisis,” Dastgir told Geo TV news channel.

Outages were reported in the southern port city of Karachi, the capital, Islamabad, the eastern city of Lahore, and Peshawar in the north.

The sorry state of Pakistan’s power sector is emblematic of an economy that has lurched from one International Monetary Fund bailout to the next, with electricity outages occurring frequently due a lack funds to upgrade ageing infrastructure.

When the grid broke down in October it took several hours before power was restored.

In Peshawar, a city of more than 2.3 million people, some residents said they were unable to get drinking water because the pumps were powered by electricity.

Mohammad Asim, a spokesperson for the city’s Lady Reading hospital, the largest in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said backup generators were used to provide uninterrupted electricity for the emergency ward, intensive care units, and laboratories.

The power ministry issued a statement saying work was ongoing to revive the system, and the minister said electricity had been restored in some parts of the country.

Pakistan has enough capacity to meet the demand, especially in winter, when it mostly has a surplus. But the country lacks resources to run its oil and gas powered plants and the sector is so heavily in debt that it cannot afford to invest in infrastructure and power lines.

“Generators are too far from the load centres and transmission lines are too long and insufficient,” a top power official who did not want to be quoted because he was not authorised to speak to the media, told Reuters.

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