WAPDA Privatization Protested, Throwing Away at Nominal Prices
Peshawar Electric Supply Company (Pesco) and Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) offices in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa remained closed on Monday as Wapda Hydro Labour Union went on strike against federal government’s privatisation policy.
The union halted all revenue generating jobs for the utility, including billing, meter reading and bill distribution.
Wapda Hydro Electric Labour Union provincial general secretary Mustajab Khan Mazduryar said, “We will not work for an indefinite period; only entertain consumer complaints about power supply. We are protesting for the public. If the government privatises Wapda, tariffs will be increased which will impact the public. The offices in Peshawar and in other districts of K-P will remain closed and our staff will not carry out any outdoor duties until our demand to stop privatisation is addressed.”
In Peshawar, which is also the headquarters of Wapda in the province, union representatives protested in front of the main building.
“Faisalabad Electric Supply Company (FESCO) is the best among all 12 power distribution companies in the country as far as revenue generation and losses are concerned,” said the association’s chairperson Gohar Taj. He added the government is privatising ‘the cream’, the most profitable portion at a throwaway price.
“We ask the government to stop the privatisation of profitable Pakistan Power Distribution Companies (DISCO) and sit with us to make plans to improve distributors which are facing a loss.”
Mazduryar accused the federal government of giving away utility assets at nominal prices in the privatisation of FESCO.
“The government has 159 offices worth billions of rupees. However it has fixed the price at Rs400,000 per marla while the market price is Rs1.5 million per marla.”
He added the government decided to give all used power transformers to the buyer at no cost. “We will gather at Wapda House daily and protest all day until we get our demands.
In DI Khan, protesters held a sit-in at Wapda’s main office. The union’s rural division chairman, Muhammad Nawaz Gandapur, said “Wapda is a profitable institution and the government is privatising it only for its personal interests. We will not allow the government to do so.”
Meanwhile, in Tank, the labour union also protested against Wapda. Union chairperson Zahir Shah Marwat said, “The government is not concerned about the welfare of labourers and its anti-labour policy will ruin the country’s economy.”
In Swabi, the union representatives under the supervision of the divisional chairman, Haji Rawaid, kept the offices locked and vowed to take all steps to stop the privatisation. The union’s Kohat divisional chairman, Younas Shah, criticised the government, flaying them and echoing the labour organisation’s sentiments elsewhere. In Nowshera and Malakand, employees held rallies holding black flags, placards and posters.
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