The national grid of Pakistan is one of the poorest managed in the world, and is unable to provide electricity for major cities, halting industrialization and daily lives. Our government has been constantly criticized on power strategies. Now, a last resort has been employed in an attempt to save some blemishes from the face of our Water & Power Minister, Mr. Raja Parvez Ashraf.
The ‘Kaya Bey’, a Turkish power ship has landed at the Karachi port, with promises of as much as 232 MW of electricity being added to the national grid. The size of the project can be judged from within the name “Kaya” meaning ‘rock/mass’, suggesting the scale to which it should play a role in healing the electric dullness of Karachi. Designed by the Turkish firm, Karkay Karadeniz Elektrik Uretim A.S, this is the world’s largest power ship. The plantation is fuel/diesel operated, but of course our government using their money in ‘other important matters’ the maintenance and operation tasks of Kaya Bey have been completely outsourced to a Pakistani firm in private sector – Orient Energy Systems.
But we must ask ourselves, is it really worth it? For a country with coal supplies so ample that 2% of our reserves in coal could generate power for the next 50 years, is this expense really worth the take? For how long will the government depend on other countries to do what it doesn’t want to? Yes we will have more power, but it’s coming at a very high cost- the high rent is not to be subsidized for by the government which means that the public, once again, ‘pays the price.’ According to PEPCO sources, an additional cost of 2 cents per unit will be employed every month, which could at the end of the 5 year rent clause spell an increase in power tariffs of about 15 rupees. Ultimately, it is the common man who pays for the government’s misery.
Can the current government even be trusted with the plant? The federal minister claims that within the past two years 1800 megawatts of power have been added to the national grid, whereas a former MD of PEPCO has released a statement concluding that this is false, and that though there has been an increase of 1800MW, the credit for that goes to the Musharraf regime, not the current government.
Where possible Hydro-electric Plants could have been setup with the same if not lesser amount of money for more power, in places such as Kalabagh, the government shows no incentive at all- not just power generation, but flood control could also have been exercised there. But as usual the government showed the ‘we want everything ready for us’ attitude. In no way am I suggesting that this plant is not beneficial, the government had better possibilities than to buy the world’s most expensive power-ship in times where 21 million are starving and looking for homes, rehabilitation and recovery from the very water that could have produced 100’s of megawatts of electricity had it been utilized well enough.
A controversy has sparked the arrival of Kaya Bey. While Raja Pervaiz Ashraf has claimed that it will provide electricity to Karachi, KESC officials have strongly denied that claim.