By Aamir Shafaat Khan
KARACHI, June 2: Surging demand of uninterrupted power supply (UPS) units in the Punjab has caused a shortage of batteries in Karachi where dealers are said to be selling them at a premium of Rs1000-2000 over and above the listed price.
Over 50 per cent of the UPS production in Karachi is being diverted to the Punjab. The demand from the NWFP and Balochistan has also increased, and there are reports that a sizable quantity is sent to Afghanistan from the NWFP.
UPS dealers said that battery manufacturers are facing problems in meeting the burgeoning demand from the Punjab. They said battery makers have already enhanced the rate by over 100 per cent in the last one year in view of rising demand.
Dealers said that currently a battery for four fans and four tube-lights costs Rs11,000-12,000 as compared to Rs5,400 last year. The UPS price has surged to Rs9,000 from Rs6,500 last year. The total package for installing the UPS with batteries now costs Rs20,500 as compared to Rs10,000 last year.Similarly, the battery price for three fans and three tube-lights is Rs9,500 as compared to Rs3,800 last year. The UPS costs Rs7,000 as compared to Rs4,500 last year. The total cost of UPS and battery is Rs16,500 as compared to Rs8,300 last year.
For two fans and two tube-lights, consumers have to manage Rs7,500 for battery as compared to Rs2,900 last year while the UPS price for the same is Rs5,200 as against Rs2,800 last year.
A consumer needs to manage Rs12,700 for both UPS and battery this year as compared to Rs5,700 last year. The electrician at least charges Rs1,000 for installation of the UPS.
A UPS dealer at Regal Chowk, Parvaiz Alam Khan, that UPS has now become a popular gadget in the Punjab where load-shedding timings are fixed. Consumers there get enough time to charge the battery. However, in Karachi the situation is on the reverse as there are no fixed timings for load-shedding.
A UPS maker said that the UPS price alone has surged by 25 per cent this year as compared to last year owing to rising prices of local and imported items, like copper winding, integrated circuits, transformers, aluminum, iron sheets, etc.
Three years back, Karachi used to get UPS from the Lahore-based cottage industries, but now it is considered that the UPS from Karachi are far better than the Punjab.
He said Chinese UPS are also available in the market which, but these are costly as consumers have to pay Rs1,000 more than the locally made UPS.
Clever battery makers, who can be counted on fingers, virtually enjoy a monopoly like car and heavy vehicle manufacturers. They have now jumped to a new sound business option in the last three years since the rise in the UPS demand. Irrespective of rise and fall in car and heavy vehicles’ production in the last three years, they are now fully cashing in on the situation, with the surging UPS demand, and are making frequent increases in the prices of batteries.
Three years back, battery-makers used to offer a guarantee of one year, but now they offer only six months guarantee. The government has not checked the meteoric rise in battery makers which is equally hurting both the car as well as UPS users.
Source: Daily Dawn, 3/6/2008