The story of Shahid, a poor resident of Chakray in Rawalpindi who makes a living by cleaning people’s homes, is similar to many other deprived people who’ve borne the brunt of government corruption and inflated electricity bills. The government recently claimed that it had conducted an investigation and audit of the issue of overcharging of electricity bills and has resolved the problem by billing consumers for 5 days less in the following month. The matter however is not so simple. Firstly the overcharging was done over a period of several months, not just one. Secondly no steps seem to have been taken to counter the inefficiency and dishonesty through which the masses continue to be fleeced.
The loadshedding.pk team recently interviewed Shahid who had not been receiving his electricity bill for several months. Shahid visited the local IESCO office to inquire and was told to view his bill online. As he is illiterate and has no access to the internet, he pleaded with the staff to provide him with a printout of the bill but to no avail. This went on for several months and then suddenly a few days back he received the bill for the month of November for a staggering amount of PKR 75,000. Shocked and extremely upset he visited the IESCO office again and was told at first that he would have to pay the bill or else his electricity supply would be cut off. After he made a big fuss, a staff member told him that he would change the settings on his meter for a sum of PKR 10,000.
Shahid despairingly told our team that he had no choice but to pay the man, otherwise his electricity supply would discontinue and then he might have to pay the same guy twice the amount to get the connection again. He also mentioned that he had not received his gas bill for this month and was very worried that a similar issue might arise for that as well.
There are thousands of others, just like Shahid; victims of government incompetency and the menace of corruption that has seeped all levels of our society. How long will the people of this country suffer and be forced to pay bribes to avail the basic utilities of life?