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Pakistan Fully Restores Power After Second Major National Breakdown

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Pakistan Fully Restores Power After Second Major National Breakdown

(CTN NEWS) – ISLAMABAD, Pakistan –  On Tuesday, Pakistan’s energy minister said the nation had learned from the breakdown that left millions of people without electricity because it had not invested in the power grid.

Khurram Dastgir Khan told reporters Tuesday that all 1,112 grid stations had been restored within 24 hours.

The power network in Pakistan desperately needs to be upgraded, but funding has been patchy as Pakistan bounced from one IMF bailout to another.

It was the second major breakdown since October that began on Monday morning.

Khan tweeted that there will be limited power outages in various areas in the coming days because coal and nuclear power plants will need more time to stabilize.

“It is estimated that it will take 48 to 72 hours for around 6,600 MW of coal plants and 3,500 MW of nuclear plants to restart. As long as these plants are not operational, load management will be limited except for industrial users.

A laundryman uses a cell phone as he sits at his shop during a country-wide power breakdown in Peshawar, Pakistan January 23, 2023. REUTERS/Fayaz Aziz

GRID COLLAPSED

The country’s national grid collapsed Monday morning, affecting offices, businesses, hospitals, and schools.

Residents in big cities, including Karachi and Lahore, continue to report power outages despite the country’s electricity being restored most of the night.

Announcing that nearly 220 million people had been restored to power, Energy Minister Khurram Dastgir told reporters, “We learned lessons from yesterday that we need to invest in the distribution system.”

He said neither the previous nor the current government has invested in improving these systems.

The International Monetary Fund has bailed out Pakistan five times in the last two decades. However, its latest bailout tranche is stuck due to disagreements with the government over a program review.

READ MORE: Pakistan Suffers Huge Trouble with No Electricity, No Gas, No Water

A stockbroker monitors the share prices on computers powered by the generator in the hall of Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) during country-wide power breakdown in Karachi, Pakistan, January 23, 2023. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

WEAK LINKS

Pakistan has enough installed power capacity to meet demand, but the sector is so heavily indebted that it cannot afford to invest in infrastructure and power lines.

The weakest links are transmission and distribution, according to analysts.

As part of its “Belt and Road” initiative, China is investing $60 billion in its power sector. However, the details of this investment remain unclear.

Dastgir said the cause of the outage is still unknown, but the ministry is conducting a safety audit. In the next 36 months, the government plans to add more power distribution lines.

Pakistan suffers almost daily partial blackouts, including scheduled “load shedding” power outages.

Although many take these disruptions in stride, investing in generators and solar panels to generate their own power, the frail infrastructure also takes a toll.

Sara Khan, principal of a school for girls in Jacobabad, a southern city without power for up to 18 hours a day, said, “Without electricity, we can’t do anything.” Power cuts have caused too many problems.

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