KARACHI - Cable TV and internet services in the port city will remain down for 3 hours from 7pm till 10pm to protest K-Electric’s ‘oppressive measures’, according to Pakistan Telecommunications Access Provider Association (PTAPA) cable operators.

However, K-Electric spokesperson said the company will not bow down to blackmailing and pressure tactics of the cable operators, who in various meetings and conversations with the local authorities including Commissioner Karachi assured in writing that they will shift their illegal and unsafe wires to a safer underground system. The first phase of this project was identified in 50 different locations and was supposed to be completed by July 20. Despite repetitive appeals made to them by KE, the work has not commenced properly.

Pakistan Cable Operators Association Chairman Khalid Arain said that cable & internet operators will continue their strike against K-Electric by suspending cable TV & internet services in five cities across Sindh.

Arain said that instead of suspending services for 2 hours, cable & internet operators will suspend services for 3 hours from 7pm to 10pm in Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Nawabshah and Larkana. The three-hour protest is against K-Electric removing cables from their electric poles and disrupting cable and internet services in Karachi.

Arain stated that a meeting had taken place earlier on Tuesday with Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Ali Shallwani in order to resolve the issues between the two parties. “However, no KE representative attended the meeting,” he claimed, adding that the commissioner directed the relevant authorities to facilitate cable operators in moving their wires underground.

He maintained that Karachi was a sprawling metropolis and cable and internet operators needed time — at least three years — to shift their systems. “We need time and KE is not giving us time,” he said, adding that suspension of services was continuing due to the power utility’s “stubborn attitude”. He said that another meeting will take place with the Karachi commissioner on Wednesday to resolve the issues between the two parties.

Meanwhile, Shallwani said that cable operators will start working as per the NOC issued by the commissioner’s office and will “ensure that there were no loose cables on electricity poles” which could endanger lives of the people.

On Monday night, KE had responded to cable and internet operators’ “token strike” against the power utility’s “high-handedness”, saying that they had failed to shift their “illegal and unsafe wires to a safe underground system”, despite making commitments.

In a press conference earlier in the day, Arain had announced that in order to protest KE’s ‘oppressive measures’, TV and broadband services would remain suspended in Karachi between 7pm and 9pm.

He had alleged that the power utility had cut cable and internet wires without prior warning, as it held cable operators responsible for the deaths caused during last year’s rains due to electrocution. In a series of tweets, KE “strongly reasserted its determination to continue its drive against [the] illegal encroachment of its infrastructure by TV and internet cables,” calling them a “major safety hazard”.

The power utility claimed that the Pakistan Telecommunication Access Provider Association (PTAPA) had assured local authorities that they will shift their “illegal and unsafe wires” underground. “The first phase of this project on 50 locations was supposed to be completed by July 20.”

The KE added that in “broader public interest”, it had offered technical support to cable operators to ensure that the project was completed before the onset of the monsoon season. “However, despite the deadline, certain cable operators have failed in their commitments.”

The power utility concluded its statement by saying that it was determined to take action against illegal cable TV and internet connections to ensure people’s safety and asked citizens to support them in removing this “menace” from Karachi.