After a widespread blackout, electricity is finally being restored in Pakistan, and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has ordered an investigation into the system breakdown that contributed to the nation’s struggle with rising energy prices. After the national grid collapsed on Monday morning, a large portion of the 220 million population was left without electricity, forcing hospitals to turn to backup generators and severely disrupting mobile and Internet services. In cities like Karachi and Lahore, connection restoration efforts went on well into the night, causing many outages to last longer than 12 hours despite the freezing weather.
Pakistan looks into the outdated power system
Energy Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan told reporters late on Monday that Sharif has ordered an investigation into the most recent blackouts. Low power demand had made the system more “vulnerable,” he claimed in a tweet.
Although there have been numerous disruptions, including a significant collapse of the national grid in January 2021, Pakistan has made little headway in modernizing its aging power transmission system. Pakistan has been heavily struck by a global shortage of energy as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has increased the cost of fuel imports and made the country’s problems with skyrocketing inflation and depreciating currency worse. An increase in energy prices is one of the requirements for receiving funding from the International Monetary Fund.
Fuel rationing and rolling blackouts have been in effect for some time, and a current round of plans aims to reduce electricity use by roughly half. Employees in the public sector have been asked to work from home, and businesses including markets, restaurants, and shopping centers have been ordered to close earlier than usual. As coal and nuclear plants are fully restarted, some areas of the country may continue to experience power shortages for at least the ensuing 48 hours, according to Khan. According to him, Pakistan will concentrate on improving the security features in the electrical distribution system, and projects totaling 80 billion rupees ($346 million) have started in recent months.
The Power Outage Disrupts the Telecom sector
Mobile and internet service disruptions were also reported on Monday across a number of Pakistani cities as a result of a nationwide electrical outage. Following the power outage, mobile phone services were reportedly impacted in the twin towns of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. The problems arose when the protracted power outage disrupted the power supply to telecom companies’ towers because they ran out of fuel stored to temporarily run the towers and ensure a steady flow of services. The scenario has made it challenging for telecom providers to offer services to their customers across the country.
According to the telecom sector, “mobile network installations are being run on backup power since morning, which cannot work for a long time.” They continued by saying that prompt power restoration from the national grid is necessary to maintain services. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) informed users of the problems via Twitter and commanded businesses to “inform their respective subscribers accordingly and to make optimal efforts for refueling of the generators on a maximum number of sites”. According to a tweet from the authority, “PTA is working with operators to provide uninterrupted services across the country”
Due to the widespread power outage, subscribers “may witness degradation in PTCL services,” the Pakistan Telecommunications Company Limited (PTCL) tweeted. The business said, “Once the electricity is restored, you will be able to enjoy continuous PTCL services again.
The country-wide power outage was blamed for the considerable drop in internet availability in Pakistan, according to network statistics from NetBlocks, a global internet monitor. It also included an update and mentioned regional metrics indicating that “telecommunications in most of Pakistan’s regions have been affected by the nation-wide power outage, with authorities reportedly working to repair the breakdown – the second in a year caused by fluctuations in the energy grid”
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