Lebanon:electricity and heating out of order-due to the cold

Some areas without power for 16 hours a day

10 January, 18:58

(ANSAmed) - BEIRUT, JANUARY 10 - Long hours of blackout due to power cuts, cold houses due to shortfalls in fuel distribution and the wave of cold weather that has hit Lebanon over the past week highlights the shortcomings of the provision of services to the population.

Even the ration plan that has been applied to electricity supplies in the country for years now has broken down due to a peak in consumption as people use electric stoves to keep warm - especially in the outskirts of Beirut and the provinces. Daily newspaper L'Orient le Jour has today provided a list of the worst-hit areas, gathering complaints from local residents.

In Brummana, on the hills to the south of the capital, as many as 16 hours per day are spent without power supplies. There were fourteen hours of blackout in Naccache, to the east of Beirut, and 12 in the Chuf mountains, to the south-east.

The situation has been complicated by the suspension of power supplies from Syria and from Egypt due to political upheavals, adding to the effect of the breakdowns due to bad weather.

In such a situation, the promises made by Energy Minister Gibran Bassil are of little comfort. The minister is promoting an upgrading of the electricity grid, which was approved after much debate within the government. In a press conference held alongside Kamal Hayek, the General Director of state utility , Elecricite' du Liban, Bassil announced that work would start in March, once a series of international companies have competed for the first tenders of works. Among the first objectives are those of increasing electricity production by 700 Megawatts, renewing the present Jiyeh and Zouk power stations, as well as the use of electricity generating ships.

The recent cold spell has also led to a break down in the distribution of heating fuel, which is normally delivered to households by tankers, to make up for the lack of a gas distribution network. The problem is affecting the South of the country worst, in the Bekaa Valley and in Mount Lebanon. The Chair of oil derivatives distributors' association, Sami Brax, told Orient le Jour that the problem has been aggravated by the black market, with fictitious companies drawing on oil supplies intended for the distributors and selling them on illegally.

(ANSAmed).

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