The public is getting increasingly aggravated by the constant power cuts, and the protest in Lahore in front of the LESCO office on Wednesday was yet another indication of how the failure of the power companies is leaving the people at the end of their wits. The promises of the government to end the energy crisis have not been forgotten, and their overconfidence is coming back to haunt them now, with the unrelenting summer making life intolerable.

With the shortfall now averaging around 6000MW daily, LESCO was given an ultimatum by the government to bring down line losses and prevent theft. Instead of doing this, LESCO is resorting to its tried and tested technique of increasing revenues by making the price of electricity exorbitant in July for consumers that regularly pay their bills and over-billing to make up for money lost in the previous fiscal year. The inefficiency of LESCO and other DISCOs (distribution companies) is compounded by the rampant corruption running from top to bottom. No one has forgotten the charges of corruption against ex-CEO Arshad Rafique and GM (operations) Mehboob Ali for making unscheduled power cuts, but the problem is not resolved by their removal.

The issue is further exacerbated by a shortage of meters and transformers in the company. LESCO has not bought any new transformers since last year, and transformers are reused as a stop gap measure, which only delays the inevitable breakdown by a short amount of time. Requests for new meters are not entertained because LESCO has none, and has no plans to buy new ones.

The Minister for Water and Power has already given up, and the public is also losing hope for an end to the energy crisis. Anger against the government is entirely justified, and the PML-N needs to get its act together and fulfill its responsibilities to the people. The government’s attempt to fix the problem has only resulted in a new transformer installed in one of the grid stations of Lahore. But one transformer is not nearly enough to make up for the dearth of 6000 MW. A wide range of power projects to be completed in 2017 or whereabouts are being used as a shield by the government, but this might not be enough to keep the people silent for too long.