Taiz Electricity On Trial [Archives:1998/26/Business & Economy]

June 29 1998

Mohammed Hatem Al-Qadhi,
Yemen Times

I am sure you all agree with me that electricity is one of the basic facilities essential to all the domains of modern life, don’t you? Life is indeed inconceivable without it. But it seems that the people in charge of this service in Taiz hold a different point of view. It is for them a luxury that is needed occasionally by commoners and hence must be restricted to a select few. Once a friend of mine quipped: “I wish I were living in the zones of the well-to-do and VIPs.” I impulsively asked: “why?” His very reply sent shock-waves down my spine. “Electricity never goes out there.” This is my friend’s humble sole dream to be able to do his job properly and without any interruption. Yes, we should ask why it works regularly in some specific zones. Is it really a luxury and therefore should be limited to a specific group of the society?
Is It For Fun?
It has become a customary thing that people in charge of this service discontinue the supply in some zones for two or more hours and then restore it. But now they invented a new technique whereby they put it on and off, on and off… for some time, like a game of hide and seek. Then it goes out for longer periods.
Most people, of course, use candles to overcome the darkness. Once it so happened that it went out and I therefore lit a candle. Then it came again and I blew the candle out. The electricity went out again. The process continued for some time. My friend burst with laughter for it was very funny, wasn’t it? He told me that this practice might be done intentionally for fun or entertainment.
Boundless Damage
But I should say this practice of switching it on and off is reaching alarming proportions. It has resulted in a good many negative fall-outs. It actually damages a lot of electric appliances like fridges, irons, radios, televisions, etc. It also damages many things in factories and cold stores. Is this done intentionally for these things are luxuries and people should be deprived of them? Therefore the people of Taiz should file a case against the people in charge of this “vital” service. They should also ask for a compensation for the loss of too many of their appliances. “Don’t these guys know that it has become very difficult for us to buy even a loaf of bread?!” Another more serious facet of this phenomenon is that pertaining to patients in hospitals. Suppose that doctors are operating on a patient and the electricity goes out. What will happen? Is it not a critical lapse? Who is responsible for that? Isn’t this a farce?!
Taiz no more a City!
The problem doesn’t stop here. Our students are inexorably complaining against this service. It is very difficult for them to study and prepare for their examinations without it. “We are thinking of returning back to our village since the electricity, which is the only thing that still distinguishes the city of Taiz from some villages, is not working regularly. The non-availability of water and electricity doesn’t qualify Taiz to be a city anymore,” a student observed sardonically. “I doubt very much that the people concerned can’t handle this nagging problem,” he added.
So everybody is furious and fed up with the electricity supply in Taiz. Indeed, their nerves are flared up, particularly when receiving a lot of water and electricity bills with no proper services in return.
Face the Expansion
The city of Taiz is witnessing a constant urban expansion. This means that many areas have to be provided with public services, the first of which are water and electricity. Do the people in charge consider this matter? What is their plan for facing this expansion in Taiz? I doubt very much that an amicable solution to this problem is beyond reach. Some cities have been provided with electric generators to help tackle this problem partially. What about Taiz? Doesn’t anybody care about it? But we do!