Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Power to the people: Focusing all their energy against change

Power to the people: Focusing all their energy against change

Published: November 2, 2011

" Are they trying to tell us that they couldn’t find a single qualified engineer from within Fesco?," Fesco coordinator in Chiniot, Asad Ali.


Hundreds of Faisalabad Electric Supply Company (Fesco) employees have locked out all Fesco offices on the call of the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Hydro Electric central labour union on Tuesday. Wapda workers have called a rally to express their resentment against the appointment of the new chief executive for Fesco, who has been criticised for having no engineering back ground.

After boycotting their duties, Fesco staff in Faisalabad, Sargodha, Jhang, Chiniot, Toba Tek Singh, Mianwali and Bhakkar staged huge demonstrations and chanted slogans against the establishment. “We want someone qualified as the head of such a large company. The government cannot just employ whoever they want,” said a Mianwali Fesco worker Hassan Bajwa.

A major protest rally was also taken out from Fesco headquarters and the participants marched out on various city roads and gathered at chowks in different cities including Abdullah Pur Chowk, Station Chowk, Chenab Club Chow and Zilla Council Chowk. “We will never accept this decision. There is enough crisis with the power companies and we are facing great challenges. We cannot deal with these problems without a ‘qualified’ person at the helm,” said Faisalabad Fesco worker Muneer.

All the FESCO employees from various divisions, subdivisions and circles joined the rally at Zilla Council Chowk where they also staged a sit-in to press their demands. The demonstrators were holding placards and banners and chanted slogans and stressed the need to withdraw the decision as soon as possible. “Are they trying to tell us that they couldn’t find a single qualified engineer from within Fesco? They needed to bring someone from outside who doesn’t even have anything to do with the company,” said Fesco coordinator in Chiniot, Asad Ali.

Due to the protest rally, traffic on all major and interior roads of the city remained suspended for hours. Commuters in several cities said that they suffered a great deal of inconvenience especially students. “It took me nearly four hours to get back from college because the roads were blocked,” said Munazza Rahman, an FSc student.

Regional Secretary Hydro Union (CBA) Mian Muhammad Rasheed and other leaders addressed the protestors and said that Pakistan will face a severe energy crisis if the power sector was privatised. “We are already facing so many problems due to power outages and load shedding. This will only get worse if we privatise,” he said. Protesters said that energy was the lifeline of every sector and if the power sector was privatised, the national economy would face unprecedented destabilisation. The protesters warned that if their demands were not met the protests would continue indefinitely.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 2nd, 2011.

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