Smoke Fills Kabul as Residents Prepare for Winter Without Electricity

Smoke Fills Kabul as Residents Prepare for Winter Without Electricity
2.5 5

Published December 5th, 2017 - 06:00 GMT via SyndiGate.info

Rate Article:

 
PRINT Send Mail
comment (0)
The city is littered with dark smoke when the sun sets and residents start burning wood, coal and even garbage to keep themselves warm (AFP/File)
The city is littered with dark smoke when the sun sets and residents start burning wood, coal and even garbage to keep themselves warm (AFP/File)
Follow >
Click here to add Asian Development Bank as an alert
Asian Development Bank
,
Click here to add De Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat as an alert
,
Click here to add Fawzia Kufi as an alert
Fawzia Kufi
,
Click here to add Kabul as an alert
Kabul
,
Click here to add Kabul government as an alert
Kabul government
,
Click here to add Khalid Stanikzai as an alert
Khalid Stanikzai
,
Click here to add Ministry of Water as an alert
Ministry of Water
,
Click here to add Ministry of Water and Power as an alert
Ministry of Water and Power
,
Click here to add Mohammad Hussain Fahimi as an alert
Mohammad Hussain Fahimi
,
Click here to add Mohibur Rehman Momand as an alert
Mohibur Rehman Momand
,
Click here to add RTA as an alert
RTA
,
Click here to add Taliban as an alert
Taliban
,
Click here to add United Nations as an alert
United Nations

 

  • In Kabul, power failures last longer than 12 hours daily
  • Residents use coal and wood-fired heaters to keep warm
  • Many residents are finding it hard to breathe with no electricity for air conditioners
  • Demand for electricity is reaching 600MW while the supply remains around 300MW

 

Kabul resident Ezatullah Khan had to rush his ailing mother to Pakistan as a crippling winter electricity outage in the Afghan capital combined with smoke from coal and wood-fired heaters to make breathing impossible for the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD patient.

The Afghan capital has been plunged into severe electricity shortages this winter, inflicting power failures for more than 12 hours daily.

It has paralyzed the commercial, industrial and routine life of so many Afghans converging in Kabul from various restive corners of the country, especially the ill and elderly.

“The blood pressure of my mother was hitting dangerously high levels every other day because she was finding it hard to breathe, especially in the evening when there is no electricity to switch on the air conditioners, and the whole city is filled with smoke of coal and wood-fired heaters,” Khan said.

The city is littered with dark smoke when the sun sets and residents start burning wood, coal and even garbage to keep themselves warm.

Not many Afghans residing in the capital have the liberty to bear the financial and other costs to travel out or come-up with other costly solutions on their own to generate power and overcome the issues created by the shortage of electricity.

The government is simply blaming the steadily rising demand and supply gap for the situation.

Mohibur Rehman Momand, director for De Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), the power utility, said the demand for electricity in Kabul is reaching 600MW while the supply remains around 300MW.

“Kabul these days is no longer the city that it was a couple of years ago. It has developed enormously. Our clients, many of them comprised of hundreds of individual electricity users, have reached 541,000,” he said.

The power utility, and indeed the Kabul government, seems to be facing tough times in catching up with fast-paced population growth in the capital. Official estimates put the population of Kabul at 4.6 million, but unofficial estimates put it at around six million.

According to the DABS official, public hospitals along with industrial sites remain the top priority for them.

Non-payment of bills is adding to the problem.

 

 

Apart from the staggering gap between demand and supply, non-payment of electricity bills by influential individuals and groups, DABS clients in restive areas where the Taliban collect the money, is another hitch in this equation.

From former Jihadi leaders to various government ministries to the public broadcaster RTA and even the tomb of the former president, all owe the power utility millions of afghanis in electricity charges.

Earlier this week, the Wolesi Jirga (lower house parliament) had to set all pressing political and security issues aside to discuss the unrelenting electricity crisis in Kabul.

Lawmakers grilled DABS officials as well as Ministry of Water and Power officials. WJ’s member Fawzia Kufi said the capital had been plunged into darkness while the government seems idle, despite an abundance of natural resources available such as water, sun and wind.

“This shows the government’s incompetence”, she said.

Addressing the house, Khalid Stanikzai, director of commercial affairs at the DABS, said a significant number of their subscribers have defaulted for years.

“We have suggested to the government that such individuals with arrears of up to AFN 0.5 million ($7,264) should be put in the Exit Control List (ECL) and those with arrears of up to AFN 1 million ($14,528) should be barred from contesting in elections,” he said.

He was, however, confronted by angry parliamentarians who insisted the power utility should come up with a list of defaulters rather than imposing vague allegations.

“Why don’t you make the name of the warlords and other powerful individuals public? Why should a poor man keep paying bills while the powerful are not, and the poor people remain deprived of electricity?” Mohammad Hussain Fahimi said, lashing out at the DABS officials.

In reply, the power utility promised next winter would be much better, with 150MW of additional electricity added to the power grid. It includes an Asian Development Bank (ADB)-funded $44.76 million first 20 megawatts (MW) on-grid solar photovoltaic plant on the outskirts of Kabul.

But, for ordinary Afghan citizens like Ezatullah Khan, this exchange of arguments in the parliament and promises made at the higher level are too good to believe in:

“For me, it is meaningless even if they manage to generate even a 1,000MW of electricity when, God forbid, something happened to my mother.”

 

This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Copyright Andolu Ajansi

Add a new comment

 avatar