Mon 27 May 2019

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State of services is worsening in Daraa

Village of Tell Shihab in the countryside of Daraa in southern Syria, May 2018 (Tell Shihab Local Council)

Village of Tell Shihab in the countryside of Daraa in southern Syria, May 2018 (Tell Shihab Local Council)

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The level of the facilities provided in the service sectors in Daraa governorate has witnessed a noticeable deterioration, compared to their levels during the opposition’s control, six months after the Syrian regime’s control over the southern region.

Contrary to the expectations of the region’s residents, after the promises of the Syrian regime’s government to raise the level of public services in Daraa, the performance of the service sectors has declined significantly, becoming worse than it used to be before the regime’s control over the governorate.

The deterioration of services includes electricity, water, and fuel, roads, and public facilities, along with the government’s neglect of the region.

 

Lack of electricity and interruption of water

During the past period, the electricity-rationing system in the cities of Daraa has remained the same with an average of electricity supply of two hours a day and two hours a night. After the government’s reduction of the supplied megawatts, the electricity supply has decreased to one hour a day and another at night, compared to one hour of electricity supply for every five hours of electricity cut off in the center of the city.

The majority of the population’s reliance on the solar energy system contributes to the reduction of the need for electricity. The solar panels provide energy for a part of house lighting and the operation of some electric appliances such as televisions and washing machines, in case the panels have large capacity and are connected to a boost converter.

Commenting on the long electricity-rationing system, Hassan, who lives in the city of Daraa, told Enab Baladi, “Electricity reaches the city in low quantities due to excessive usage, especially in winter, due to the use of water heaters and electric heaters in light of the insane rise in fuel prices.”

The 30-year old young man added:”The Electricity Directorate has not worked on the reparation of the power supply networks and the maintenance of the transformers. The directorate has only adopted the electricity-rationing system and most of the breakdowns of power supply networks are fixed by the residents of the neighborhoods, at their own expense.”

There has been a relative improvement in the drinking water situation compared to the faults in this sector, especially since the internal water supply networks are old in some areas after they have been damaged in the past years. Some of these networks need reparation and maintenance, which the regime’s workshops have not provided in the present time.

A former member of a local council (who asked not to be named for security reasons) said that most of the water supply networks in the southern region need restoration and some of them are old. Local councils have worked on restoring the networks over the past years. However, this has been a partial restoration despite the councils’ limited financial capability.

The former local council member added that some villages need a complete replacement of water supply networks, some of which need a major restoration. He pointed out that after the loss of the southern region, state institutions and municipalities were clearly unable to support foreign organizations that have carried out service projects in previous years, as he put it.

“These foreign organizations have carried out vital drinking water projects, such as the installation of solar energy wells in the governorate’s areas, such as Saida, Tafas, al-Harra and Da’el. In addition, some of the drinking water pumping stations have been completely run by the solar energy system, such as Ain al-Sakhinah Project in Tell Shihab,” as he put it.

 

Roads and public facilities

In general, the public and main roads of the governorate suffer from visible deterioration in. In addition, these roads lack the necessary and emergency services, especially with the increasing complaints from car owners in the region.

The increasing number of bumps, holes, and road cracks has exhausted drivers. The crisis has worsened with the large holes filled with rain, mud, and waste. This has negatively impacted vehicles that have increasingly been breaking down during the past months, after a previously noticeable better situation during the opposition’s control.

A taxi driver, who asked not be named, told Enab Baladi that the increasing number of bumps and holes have damaged and exhausted his vehicle. He added that “in the previous years, local councils used to fill and repair the bumps. Although the solution has not been radical, it has improved the roads’ situation. However, after the regime’s control, these roads have not been repaired and the situation is terrible, especially in winter. ”

Abu Wadah, a resident of the city of Tafas, said to Enab Baladi: “The roads need to be fully paved, and we expected that the main roads of the city would be directly paved during the last period. However, the situation is still the same in the main and the interior roads of the city.”

 

Aggravating fuel crises

In terms of basic services, the southern regions of Syria are suffering from escalating fuel crises, mainly due to the lack of gas and diesel fuel in the extreme cold, amid absence of any signs of an end of such crises or at least their decrease.

The missing materials are essential to the livelihood of the Syrians because of their basic need for food and heating, especially with the scarcity of electricity and overall weak energy.

What has increased the suffering of the citizens in Daraa is the price of the gas tank on the black market reached 13,000 Syrian liras, meaning more than five times its regular price, despite repeated official statements to limit the phenomenon and provide gas to the residents.

Young man Ahmed, who witnessed the gas distribution in al-Kashef neighborhood in Daraa, said in an interview with Enab Baladi: “People rushed to the gas distribution van, which did not meet a quarter of the needs of the people there, causing clashes with the distribution committee, amid the police’s inability to resolve the situation, or the intervention of army officers.”

The lack of gas has negatively affected businesses, especially restaurants, which have resorted to raising their prices so that they continue to provide their services to the residents.

Mohamad Musalama, who owns “al-Safiha restaurant”, told Enab Baladi “I have raised the price of one item from 50 to 65 Syrian liras because I get the gas at its free price, which has increased the cost of production.” He pointed out that “the prices of grilled chicken have increased and some of the restaurants are currently closed.”

The escalating fuel crisis constitutes a huge burden on the citizens, especially as it has affected several sectors in general and the citizens’ life in Daraa in particular, especially after the price of diesel fuel reached 600 Syrian liras, knowing that its price on the smart card is 250 Syrian liras, amid the regime’s failure to resolve these crises.

In addition, the quantities that the local councils have distributed in the governorate at the beginning of the winter have not been enough, after allocating 100 liters of diesel fuel at 200 Syrian liras per liter during the season, while each family needs a minimum of 100 liters per month during the winter.

Amid the escalation of these crises, officials’ statements and promises to act have remained a dead letter, with no signs of a sooner breakthrough, and what seems to be government’s inability to run the governorate and provide it with the most basic services.

 

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