Beirut remains in the dark as a drastic power outage continues for a third day straight on Wednesday, August 13. The lack of service continues despite a recent visit by Lebanese President Emile Lahoud to Electricite du Liban (EDL) headquarters, urging officials to resume operations.
The power cut has affected districts such as Ashrafiyeh, Ras Beirut, Musseitbah and Ein Mriesseh as well the city's major commercial regions of Hamra, Corniche Mazraa and Verdun. Also hit were neighboring suburbs, reported Naharnet
Lahoud is concerned with EDL’s decision to increase the nation’s power bill in order to match the rise international fuel prices. The plan has set off widespread outrage, with many businesses threatening to cancel their subscriptions to the electricity provider.
EDL officials told Lahoud that the power failure is due to a breakdown of the Giyye-Aramoun-Jamhour line that feeds the capital. The company reported that the line has been fixed.
The Lebanese parliament ratified a draft law for the privatization of EDL last year. A minimum 40 percent of the company’s shares are to be sold to the private sector by 2005. EDL has been draining Lebanon’s Treasury, incurring an annual primary deficit of close to 400 billion Lebanese pounds ($264 million), which so far has been covered entirely by the government.
The new law separates the company into two categories: production and distribution, which will undergo privatization and transportation of high voltage electricity—to be kept in the public sphere.
EDL’s debt was at approximately $950 million last year, of which $700 million was borrowed from the government since 1996. The company has lost almost $600 million in uncollected bills since 1992 and another $230 million to illegal electricity connections and technical problems. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )