By Farman Nawaz (The Daily Patriot Islamabad)
Here is a simple question that is not letting me sleep for the last few days. Should we pay for the service which is not provided to us in the time of need? I am pointing towards the WAPDA consumer rights ,the contract between customers and WAPDA, obligations of the customers and responsibility of the WAPDA.
Should I pay for this service which is not provided to me at the time of going to bed at night, when I prepare my kids for school, when I teach in the classroom, when I come back from the school and want to take rest for an hour or two, when I start writing articles for newspapers? These are the few examples of a life of a teacher and part time journalist.
Now think about the shop keeper who is repairing electric gadgets like computers or UPS, or the tailors. How they will manage to work and earn livelihood for their families. If annually I am spending fifteen to twenty thousand rupees on purchasing heavy duty batteries to save my kids from mosquitos, so then why should I pay to WAPDA?
Fundamental rights are guaranteed in the constitution. Living and earning are fundamental rights and today living and earning without electricity is impossible. Isn’t it my fundamental right to pose a question whether the public should pay for the service which is not provided in the time of need?
Suppose if the tube well operator of our area starts providing water at two O’clock at night so isn’t it my right to protest. Similarly if cellular company network is not working at the time of need then definitely we will change the network. But what other options do we have in the matter of WAPDA. It is the only option with us but that too exploit us.
I think this load shedding is against the clause of fundamental rights in the constitution, therefore paying the electricity bill is also almost equivalent to breaking the law. If a customer is not defaulter and even then the service is not provided in time so then we must look towards the ‘Terms of Service and its supply’. If the company is not able to provide enough power then what is the legal status of the contract between the customers and WAPDA?
The contract between the customer and WAPDA is made when the customer is willing to pay the bills and the WAPDA is willing to provide the electricity. If customer is not able to pay the bill the services is disconnected but there is no solution searched out so far when the second party is not able to provide the service at the time of need so what would it lead to.
I have studied the “Consumer Laws In Pakistan A Ready Reference for Consumers & Practicing Lawyers VOLUME II”, “NWFP Consumer Protection Act 1997”, “Islamabad Consumer Protection Act 1995” but could not find a clue which answers my question.
Furthermore, the government itself is currently a major service provider; As such the government has its own point of view and interests that do not necessarily coincide with the consumer interests. Although there are consumer protections laws and courts but do they answer my question. Surprisingly In the “THE PAKISTAN WATER AND POWER DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY ACT, 1958” Even I could not find the word consumer.
It is time to stand to protect our consumer rights. Every day we listen that tariff rates are revised and fuel charges are added to the bills but no one had dared to protect our consumer rights. We must stand for the consumer rights and the legal status of the agreement between us and WAPDA in the case when WAPDA interrupts the service without any repair work or failure of its equipment. Definitely this initiative will lead to WAPDA consumer rights protection bill and standard of provision of services in the legislature.