Silver LiningsBattling crazy power cuts [Archives:2005/868/Opinion]

August 15 2005

By Mohammed Hatem al-Qadhi
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The constant power cuts which we are suffering from these days are a real headache that is driving us crazy. Because of this switch on and off policy of the ministry of the electricity grave damage is caused to the people. A lot of electrical appliances and devices are damaged on a daily basis. A lot of hours are being wasted in government and private offices as well. How come that our political regime is urging the world companies to come and invest in a country that has no basic infrastructure like power.

“You as a journalist should write about our suffering with power disruption rather than terrorism or any other political issue. We cannot tolerate this. We had better go back to using traditional sources for light and forget about modern ones. It seems they are not going to work for us,” one of my friends told me.

He believed it was unfair that he should pay for a service which was not being provided properly. You know, it is funny to find yourself receiving bills for electricity and water services neither of which flow on a regular basis. How come they want us to pay for the bills while they do not provide us with a good service?” he added with an agonizing tone. I myself as a journalist and a reporter of a foreign newspaper find it very difficult for me to work and send my reports in a proper time. Sometimes, my reports do not catch the deadline set for the paper printing and the reason is nothing but POWER.

The battle of many Yemenis, mainly in the coastal areas, with the constant heat without refrigeration, lighting, air conditioning or fans seems not to end. Life in Hodiedah and Aden, for instance, is a hell. Some people have even escaped from heat and power disruption in those areas to cities like Sana'a, claiming that they can cope up with life without power but not with heat and irregular power supply.

Some foreign reports were right when they said that Yemen is not suitable for living and one of the reasons must be the lack of enough power. In this digital era, it is impossible to keep up with the world without constant power supply as we lose a lot in these hours of power cuts.

The minister of electricity, Abdulrahman Tarmoom told the parliament last June that demand for electricity had far exceeded the available national generating capacity through the main electricity grid.

Yemen's total production of power is 1100 MW resulting in a shortfall between supply and demand of 250 MW, according to a report published by the ministry of electricity earlier this year. Further, the ministry said that 33 percent of the power produced seeps out of the system because of a lack of proper maintenance, as well as the increasing age of power stations.

The reason is nothing but lack of good maintenance of the available power generating machines as well as lack of proper strategy of the country's need of power. In fact, the erratic power supply is a consequence of an inadequate and antiquated electricity system that badly needs updating and the government could not do anything about it for many years and accordingly, the whole country has had to cope with interrupted power supplies since then.

I do not think that this disgusting rolling power cuts, rotated around the provinces of the country to cover the power supply gap is not found in any country except Afghanistan which has been in wars for decades. I guess, if our government wants to tackle this issue of power shortage, it can do it.

A parliamentary report on the power situation issued in March criticized the government for failing to fulfill earlier commitments to resolve the problem of electricity supply.

It said that the government spent over US $362,694 on maintaining steam and diesel power stations between 2000 and 2003 yet the interruption of supplies continued. Where does this money go? It is pure corruption.

The government has been spending billions on trivial things like celebrations of the unity and revolutions. These things are not a priority at all. The real revolution that people need to see and feel is to have regular power and water supply and proper health care service. Otherwise, there is no meaning for these revelations that do not change the life of the people.