BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Sidon power outages frustrate locals

Khreim carries ice for his elderly neighbor.

SIDON, Lebanon: Sidon’s electricity rationing is taking its toll this summer, with residents taking to the streets to protest and getting creative at home to deal with the blackouts.

According to an Electricity du Liban official in south Lebanon, the city receives an average of six hours of electricity in every 24 hour period. These six hours are distributed between the neighborhoods, which means that some see no more than two hours of power per day.

The city’s frustrated residents blocked main roads Wednesday and Thursday evening, but there is no sign the crisis will be resolved anytime soon.

According to the official, the deficiency in power production is due to damage at some plants, and maintenance work at others.

“In some plants, maintenance work won’t be finished before July 4,” the official said.

Private generator fees have increased in recent months, and now stand at around LL120,000-LL130,000 a month for five amperes. So many residents are now resorting to methods from a different era.

Candles and diesel-fueled lamps are returning to popularity, especially for students studying for exams in the old city, where there are only one or two hours of electricity a day.

“There are only three days left of school and I have to study by candlelight since my dad can’t afford a subscription to a private generator. He can barely feed us,” Sandy Rawwas said, adding that the government should provide a candle to each student.

Others are buying ice blocks from factories, in order to cool drinks and preserve food.

Another youngster, Jibril Khreim, was busy toting a LL5,000 block of ice that he had purchased for his elderly neighbor, Umm Ahmad, unable to perform the task herself.

“Shame on our government, which has left us living in the dark ages,” said Umm Ahmad, who was upset after a nearly two-day interruption in her electricity supply.

As fees rise, those who can afford generators are at the mercy of their operators. Mohammed Qassem was busy using a cart to bring home a small diesel-powered generator.

“Electricity is everything. This generator will light up my home, and most importantly turn on the TV so we can watch the European [football] Championship,” he said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 15, 2012, on page 4.

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