Pakistan’s government scrambles to restore power after grid breakdown, inquiry launched into outage.
The government of Pakistan is struggling to restore power to millions of people after a major breakdown in the national grid caused a widespread blackout on Monday. Energy Minister Khurram Dastgir said an inquiry had been launched into the outage, which lasted more than 12 hours and was the second major grid failure in three months. The cause of the outage was a voltage surge.
The ongoing power problems in Pakistan are due to the country’s ageing electricity network, which like much of the national infrastructure, desperately needs an upgrade but the government is unable to afford it. The International Monetary Fund has bailed out Pakistan five times in the last two decades, but the latest bailout tranche is stuck due to differences with the government over a programme review.
The blackout also affected Internet and mobile phone services, and caused disruptions across the board. Many people also had no running water because there was no power to the pumps. Energy Minister Dastgir said supplies were being partially restored from the north to the south, and that the grid should be fully functioning by 10 pm.
The outage is a reminder of the weak infrastructure of the heavily indebted nation, and highlights the need for investment in the power sector. China has invested in Pakistan’s power sector as part of a $60 billion infrastructure scheme, and analysts say more investment is needed to improve transmission infrastructure.
The blackout had a major impact on people’s lives, with commuters in the northeastern city of Lahore saying it caused great losses. The government is working to restore power and ease the suffering of the people of Pakistan, but it remains to be seen whether this will be enough to address the underlying weaknesses in the system.