Power backup operators seek alternative business to make living

Published On: January 2, 2017 12:00 AM NPT By: Ram Saran Tamang

KATHMANDU, Jan 2: Around this time in the previous years, Sanjay Tandulkar of Teku used to have his busiest business days. The reason was that his business thrived on the complete blackouts faced by the general public due to load shedding of up to 14 hours a day. But since the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) made some remarkable changes in power distribution in the past four months, his business has taken an unfavorable u-turn.

Tandulkar trades power backup appliances, including solar panels, inverters, and batteries. He was able to sell around 40 power backups per month in dry season last year, earning about Rs 15 million in the time period. But since Kulman Ghising took the seat of managing director at NEA last September and started campaigning to completely eradicate load shedding, the booming power backups businesses across the valley drastically declined as Ghising gained success.

In the past four months, Tandulkar claims that the sale of such power backups is a complete nil when normally he would be having his busiest days. 

“Now, my only source of income is through sales of vehicles' batteries and few related accessories. With the sharp drop in earnings, I'm seriously considering seeking alternatives for living,” he said.

Asgar Ali, another trader who has his backup power business in Balaju Chowk, wants to quit his business already, stating that he had previously never suffered setbacks of this gravity in his 13 years of involvement in this business.

“I hadn't foreseen this event. Now, my business is rarely thriving, with little revenues from sales of vehicles' batteries and accessories,” he said, adding, “Had all my money not been stuck in this business, I would have quit it already and get involved in another one for better revenue.”

Not just operators of such businesses, eradication or minimization of power outage in Kathmandu Valley has also affected earnings of agents who bring new customers to the valley's power backups business.

One such agent is wiring technician Umesh Rajlawat, a local of Sitapaila, Swayambhu.

He specializes in house wiring, industrial wiring, intercom wiring and generator wiring. As he visits his clients from house to house, his job allows him to act as agent for power backup business. In return for bringing new customers, such business owners provide him with some commission.

“Yes, my earnings have dropped lately. In fact, with no single customer to refer to, I now do not have any income from working as agent,” said Rajlawat, who said he had earned handsome commissions last year after finding about 30 customers for the power backups operators.

“Although nil load shedding hours have hurt my earnings, I'm extremely happy for the progress of our country. This is a huge step to the path of prosperity.”

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