WAH CANTT/TAXILA- Prices of gadgets that provide electricity during power outages such as uninterrupted power supply (UPS) and dry cell batteries are skyrocketing in the city and the manufacturers are fleecing the consumers by taking advantage of massive and unscheduled power shortage.

During a survey conducted by this reporter on Monday, it was observed that sale of generators and UPS batteries has increased in Taxila, Wah Cantt and Hassanabdal as people are going for alternate modes of electricity to offset massive loadshedding which has crippled domestic and commercial life.

Ch Javaid, a generator dealer in Aslam Market Wah Cantonment, told this reporter that 40 per cent increase in the sales of generators had been registered in the past 10 days. “The demand for Chinese power generators is increasing gradually. They have already grabbed around 60 per cent of the market share,” he added.

Noman Ali, a dealer of imported and local-made UPS at Taxila, said the demand for the locally made UPS has almost doubled while the demand for Chinese UPS is noticing downward trend as it is costly while on the other hand, its repair charges are also high.

Although prices are so high, masses have no option but to arrange alternative energy sources to get some relief for over 18 hours loadshedding which has hit hard the city. Saqib Qureshi, a resident of Model Town, said that he had purchased a heavy generator for Rs 300,000 because his family was fed up with unannounced loadshedding.

Mubashir Shah, a bookshop owner, said that he had purchased three UPS units to run his business without any hurdle. “The units cost me Rs 70,000, because the rates were very high this season,” he added.

Sheikh Zia, an electronics dealer at Taxila, told this reporter that the price of generators had doubled after the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) started loadshedding, giving an impetus to the sale of electricity generators and UPS. “The price of a small generator, used in houses and shops, was Rs 16,000 last year, which is now being sold at Rs 23,000 to Rs 26,000. The demand of heavy-duty generators, for running air-conditioners and other high electricity-consuming items, has also increased and their price ranges from Rs 76,000 to Rs 102,000,” he added. On the other hand, the prices of high quality and famous brands devices especially of UPS are going beyond the purchasing power of the common man and the member of a lower middle class family and only those well off people only could buy such luxury cum essential product while the different segments of the society are unable to afford such facilities due to their poor purchasing power in an era of serious high inflation rate of even essential commodities.

In addition, the dealers of famous manufacturing products are charging prices according to their own will by exploiting the situation. It has observed that traders and dealers of these famous brands in UPS are selling with different rates perhaps due to huge margin of earning in such products which has become part and parcel of life and enlisted as a basic necessity and a substitute of electricity like other daily use products.

Malik Aamir, a UPS dealer, said that the sale of UPS batteries had increased and manufacturers had doubled their production to meet the growing demand. “We have been selling 50 batteries a month. But since the last 25 days, the sale has doubled,” he said. Another UPS dealer Tauqeer Shah has said that UPS batteries were in high demand because they could be repaired easily. “The batteries need a water change every two to three months, which is economical. Moreover, generators make noise and UPS batteries are noiseless,” he added. He said that a powerful UPS setup can simultaneously operate computers, fans and lights.

It has also revealed that local market is also facing an ‘artificial shortage’ of parts of locally manufactured UPS and batteries, because a handful of dealers have formed a cartel to manipulate prices. Customers are complaining that even the higher-priced and locally manufactured UPS do not always work well and have a tendency to break down.

Consumers complained that most UPS manufacturers are using silver wires in the transformers instead of heavy-duty copper wire. A silver wire UPS has a short life span and cannot withstand long spells of power outages, heating up and burning away rather quickly.