Vol. 4 Num 94 Fri. August 29, 2003  
Front Page

Outages stop Karwan Bazar dead in tracks

Dhaka's Karwan Bazar, the tinsel area where leading business houses, utility offices and the lone five-star hotel are located, has been gripped by unprecedented power disruptions for the last two weeks or so.

With occasional intervals, the offices and establishments in this commercial area have been undergoing the ordeal of power outage at least five times during the day and sometimes as late as 11:00pm.

Apart from the sultry weather with temperatures hovering around 35 degrees Celsius, the frequent blackouts have proved to be a nightmare for office-goers. These people, many of whom are heavily dependent on computers and fax machines, frequently find their activities stopping dead in their tracks as electrical systems shut down with overused generators and power-starved backup systems unable to give support.

The offices yesterday experienced relatively a better day than previous two days. On Tuesday, a power blackout in the morning continued till 5:45pm, and the situation is not likely to improve anytime soon.

"It will take another 12 or 13 days before the power supply situation becomes tolerable. The present problem is mainly caused by the Ulan-Dhanmondi cable, which is now being repaired and we expect to fix it within the next 12-13 days," said a superintendent engineer of Dhaka Electricity Supply Authority (Desa), admitting that the Karwan Bazar area is the hardest-hit by the recent power crisis.

Karwan Bazar consumes about 12 megawatts of electricity a day and Tuesday it was subjected to a load shedding of seven megawatts.

But the Desa engineer said load shedding is not the only reason for power disruption in the area.

"One part of Karwan Bazar is supervised by the Tejgaon sub-station and the other part by Bijoynagar. But since both parts are inter-linked, a problem in the Tejgaon part also affects the Bijoynagar part, leading to a lack of coordination and delay in repair or maintenance."

Besides, illegal installations, unauthorised shops and slums also drain power away from genuine subscribers. "The Karwan Bazar power system is already overloaded even if you count genuine consumers. Also, it often leads to line breakdown when people try to install illegal connections."

"The other drag on the system is represented by small accidents happening every day due to heavy traffic in the commercial area. So, power poles are more prone to being hit by a car that would lead to a disruption," he added.

Desa, however, streamlined the haphazardly installed power distribution cables in the area about a couple of months ago on the eve of US Secretary of State Colin Powell's visit.

"We now believe the lines are good and once we restore the Ulan-Dhanmondi cable, the power supply here will drastically improve," said the Desa engineer.