At least four people died of electrocution in different neighbourhoods of Karachi on Wednesday, police, rescue services and hospital officials said, as parts of the city received monsoon rains for the third day.
Mohammed Rafiq, 50, was riding a motorcycle when an electric wire fell on him on Habib Rehmatullah Road popularly known as Stadium Road near Kingri House. He died on the spot. The body was shifted to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) to fulfil legal formalities.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Haleem Adil Shaikh held the K-Electric responsible for Rafiq’s death, announcing that he would get a first information report registered against the power utility. He claimed that the wire fell down after a short circuit.
Shaikh, who visited the spot, observed that KE had not removed the live wire even though two-and-a-half hours had passed.
In a tweet, the KE said it was “aware of an unfortunate incident near Karsaz, Karachi”.
“We are urgently looking into details and investigating. K-Electric’s relevant teams have already been mobilised,” it said, later announcing that the concerned officer had been suspended over the incident.
We are aware of an unfortunate incident near Karsaz, Karachi. We are urgently looking into details and investigating. K-Electric's relevant teams have already been mobilized.
— KE (@KElectricPk) July 8, 2020
Meanwhile, talking to media at the JPMC, PTI lawmaker Khurram Sher Zaman said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had taken notice of the PTI’s protest against the “atrocities” of KE and had called the opposition leader in the Sindh Assembly to Islamabad on Thursday.
The PTI’s Karachi chapter had announced earlier this week that its leaders would stage a symbolic sit-in daily at their protest camp outside the KE head office.
Among the other deaths reported in the city today, an 80-year-old man, identified as Sher Dil, died when he suffered an electric shock inside his home in Hijrat Colony in the limits of Civil Lines police, according to Dr Seemin Jamali, executive director of the JPMC. His son brought his body to the hospital in a rickshaw.
In Federal B Area Block-4 near Karimabad, a labourer, 49-year-old Mirza Rehman died of electrocution while working, an Edhi Foundation spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, 70- year-old Asghar Khan died after suffering an electric shock inside his home located in Sheet No. 12 of Model Colony.
On Tuesday, two teenage friends had died of electrocution in Old Golimar area.
Sindh minister seeks ‘strict action’
Sindh Minister for Energy Imtiaz Sheikh took notice of the electrocution deaths reported since the rains started, contacting the Power Division secretary, National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) chairman and KE managing director regarding the issue.
While expressing grief at the loss of lives, Shaikh directed the officials to take “strict action” after determining the persons responsible, according to a statement.
According to the press release, a rain emergency cell has been formed where citizens can report electrocution cases and other accidents between 10am and 5pm on these numbers: 02199207139, 03332498330 (KE), 03333778765 (Hesco), 03332479882 (Sepco).
Unannounced power outages
In recent weeks, citizens living in the metropolis have complained about unannounced power outages that have added to the misery of soaring temperatures and the coronavirus outbreak.
Last month, many residents took to the streets to protest the power outages, blocking main roads and highways to bring the issue to the attention of the relevant authorities.
For its part, KE attributed the power outages to a fuel shortage in the country.
The situation seemed to have worsened after the first monsoon spell hit Karachi on Monday, with residents experiencing hours of power outages.
Trend continues from last year
Nepra had last year formally held KE responsible for 19 deaths from electrocution in Karachi and started legal proceedings against it. According to the investigation committee’s report, KE was held responsible not only for the 19 deaths due to electrocution during rains but also power breakdowns of long durations.
The investigation committee, which was constituted by Nepra in August 2019 under Section 27-A of the Nepra Act, 1997, had submitted its report in September after detailed field visits and examination of power installations where the fatalities had been reported.
“When we conducted a probe last year and found flaws in the system, the KE was asked to fix all those issues. As per a compliance report of the company, they have fixed some 90 per cent of the electricity poles and the rest 10 per cent would be done by July 31. So one can’t guarantee what would happen or not but obviously if any wrong is found again, Nepra would move in line with defined rules,” a spokesperson for the power watchdog had media earlier this month.