By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 13 January 2014:
The daily power cuts plaguing homes across Tripoli look . . .[restrict]set to continue, as the country struggles to manage its ongoing electricity deficit.
For several weeks now most areas of Tripoli have been experiencing daily power cuts. Local residents report that these usually last between six and eight hours, although some districts – including the suburb of Janzour – have longer cuts, often for at least 12 hours per day.
“The General Electric Company of Libya (GECOL) expected that there could be problems because production is less than demand but, since the cold weather started, people have been using a lot more electricity to warm their homes,” a member of the Tripoli-based Energy Crisis Committee, Taha A. Shakshuki said.
The electricity deficit after the revolution was, in part, the result of large numbers of air conditioners and heaters being sold, he explained. “In Qaddafi’s time the percentage of consumption via air conditioning units was much less than now.”
Recent fighting had also left power stations and electricity infrastructure damaged, Shakshuki said. “Even in and around Tripoli, high-voltage lines have been hit many times and GECOL was not always able to fix these properly, all it could do was make temporary repairs.” He added that power stations hit during clashes around Sirte and Benghazi had put a still greater strain on the network, explaining that electricity from the Western network was now being diverted to support cities in the east.
As the weather improves, the problem is expected to lessen but, until some serious maintenance and reconstruction work is undertaken, power cuts seem to be part of everyday life in the capital. “We need lots of money to rebuild the electricity network and at this time no companies can come here to work,” Shakshuki said.
However reasonable these excuses may sound, frustration is building among Tripoli residents. “They said there would be power cuts for three days while they fixed something, so we didn’t mind, but, a few days after that, the cuts started again. Now they have been going on for weeks,” one local resident complained.
Whether or not there is electricity, either in homes, offices, shops or cafes is now one of the principal conversations in Tripoli, as people struggle to ensure that they can fit their daily routine around the outages. Even knowing when a hot shower is possible can be a gamble.
“If this isn’t going to stop, I wish they would give us a timetable of cuts, so we could at least plan our time,” one resident said. Households could manage when their power was off at regular times, she said, but in her central Tripoli district, the timing of the cuts had changed several times.
The outages have put further strain on the lives internally displaced communities, including the Tawerghans living in three camps around the capital. They have also left many of Tripoli’s college students forced to revise for their exams by candlelight.
WiMax and ADSL internet services also appear to be affected by the power cuts, with residents in some areas saying that connectivity can be painfully slow or sometimes non-existence, even when electricity returns.