The national power grid restored in Pakistan, the energy minister says

Pakistan’s national power system has been restored, according to the country’s energy minister, a day after a statewide blackout left the majority of the country’s 220 million people without electricity and inflicted tens of millions of dollars in business losses.

The outage began about 7:30 a.m. (0230 GMT) on Monday, a failure caused by a cost-cutting move in the midst of Pakistan’s economic crisis.

Energy Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan said that the system had been restored at around 5:15 a.m. (0015 GMT), but load-shedding will continue for the following two days until coal and nuclear units were brought back online.

“There is a need to invest in the energy sector, especially to improve the distribution system, which has long been neglected,” he told reporters in Islamabad.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed “sincere regrets for the inconvenience our citizens suffered”.

On Twitter, he said that an investigation is now underway and that “responsibility will be fixed.”

Overnight, power was restored to metropolitan areas, including megacities like Karachi and Lahore.

Shahid Sattar, general secretary of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association, anticipated losses of $70 million for the industry, which is Pakistan’s biggest exporter and a key contributor to foreign currency reserves.

Approximately 90 percent of firms were shut down on Monday due to insufficient natural gas supply, he claimed.

“Each time there is a power cut the mill has to be restarted from scratch, which takes up a lot of time and resources,” he told AFP.

“We can’t pick up from where we stopped. All that thread that’s in the middle of being dyed and treated, et cetera, cannot be used again. So we face massive losses that way.”

Khan promised that industry will be protected from the predicted load-shedding in the following days.

The economy is already hampered by rising inflation, a depreciating rupee, and very low foreign currency reserves; the power outage adds to the burden.

The electrical infrastructure in Pakistan is intricate and unstable, and issues may swiftly snowball.

Khan previously said that a change in frequency on the national grid was responsible for the first outage, which occurred when power producing units were switched on early Monday morning.

He informed reporters that the units are temporarily turned off during cold evenings to conserve fuel.

Localized power outages and load-shedding occur everyday in Pakistan, and hospitals, companies, and government institutions often rely on private generators to operate. However, the devices are out of reach for the majority of individuals and small companies.

During the power outage, hundreds of water pumps went down in Karachi, compounding the challenges for the city’s more than 15 million citizens.

The majority of schools remained either in darkness or with battery-powered lights.

After a failure in southern Pakistan tripped the national transmission system in January 2021, the whole country was impacted by a comparable outage.