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Massive power outage in Daraa

Utility poles near the al-Ash'ari station in Daraa- 20 April 2019 (Enab Baladi)

Utility poles near the al-Ash'ari station in Daraa- 20 April 2019 (Enab Baladi)

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The province of Daraa is suffering from frequent power outages, in addition to the electrical rationing measures imposed by the General Company for Electricity (GCE), which failed to deliver electricity to the power stations around the province.

The GCE attributed its failure to the high loads and lack of rationalization of electricity consumption. Additionally, the declining living standards forced residents to use electricity as an alternative for obtaining warmth, cooking and water heating, which led to the implementation of a system power rationing.

High cost of fuel

An estimated 83 percent of Syrians live below the poverty line, according to the UN. As winter approaches, three million Syrians are in need of aid, especially with the high cost of their essential commodities.

Um Ehab, a 40-year old woman from Daraa countryside, uses electric heaters to cook food, heat water and obtain warmth, in order to save diesel. In fact, the diesel price stands at 400 SYP (0.77 USD) while her 6-member family needs more than 5 liters per day, which makes around 2000 SYP (2.5 USD).

When the citizens’ allocations of fuel through the smart cards—the government subsidies fuel price to reach around 185 SYP—are over, they turn to buy diesel from markets, and in order to economize in using the diesel heater, they depend on electricity as an alternative.

A gas cylinder, however, costs 10.000 SYP (19.4 USD) on the black market, due to the shortage of fuel in the area, while a ton of firewood costs about 70.000 SYP (135.9 USD).

The Directorate of Hydrocarbons distributed the first batch of diesel fuel, in which each family’s share of allocations reached 100 liters. The directorate began to distribute the second batch.

While some families are unable to buy diesel, others still seek to save their share by turning to electricity.

Power cuts every three hours

The high loads forced the GCE in Daraa to impose electricity rationing measures, in which a power cut takes place every three hours. The GCE pointed out that it had the capacity to supply 24-hour electricity if there were not high loads in the province of Daraa.

On 27 November 2019, the GCE, through it Facebook page, called on citizens to decrease electricity consumption to avoid following the power rationing system.

General –Director of Daraa Electricity Company, Ghassan al-Zamel stated, on 9 October 2019, that 111 districts in Daraa (80 percent of the province) were lit up, costing more than ten billion SYP.

Speaking to Enab Baladi, several citizens complained that the power rationing is unfair, and that they were expecting an improvement in the situation after the pledges made, during the past months, by the General Directorate of Electricity.  The residents of Daraa province also argued that the electric power is very weak, and it gets interrupted several times during the operating hours.

The local newspaper, al-Watan, quoted an official source from the Ministry of Electricity, on 13 December 2019, saying that the reason behind electricity rationing and the frequent interruptions is the increasing consumption of electric power. The source highlighted that Syria’s production of electricity reaches 3800 MW, while it consumes 5500 MW, which means there is a deficit of 1700 megawatts.

According to the source, the electrical rationing measures will only take place in the winter due to the extra loads and the lack of rationalization of power consumption among citizens.

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