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Power delivery project revives hopes of people in Afrin 

Energy transmission line towers in the northern countryside of Aleppo - April 2019 (Enab Baladi)

Energy transmission line towers in the northern countryside of Aleppo - April 2019 (Enab Baladi)

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Enab Baladi – Aleppo Countryside

There has been much talk of carrying out a power delivery project in the city of Afrin, in cooperation with the Turkish government since the Turkish-backed rebel factions gained control of the city, that is, two years ago, until today.

In mid-December 2018, a delegation from the Turkish Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources conducted a visit to Afrin, in which they were briefed on the situation of the city and its surroundings. The delegation also charted a road map for resolving the power issue after signing an agreement with the civil institutions operating in the area. 

Implementation of the project began on 2 May, after gaining approval from the Turkish and Syrian sides, considering that the project taking place in Afrin is executed by the Turkish government, unlike other areas of Turkish influence in the northern Aleppo countryside (the Operation Euphrates Shield regions). The projects there are implemented by private Turkish companies and other Syrian companies newly working in the field of investment in the region.

The people of Afrin in general, and self employed-professionals in particular, face many difficulties and great obstacles due to frequent power outages, placing their hopes on the electricity access project to end the “Stone Age,” as described by the director of projects of “al-Wafa” association for Relief and Development Souad al-Shami, in an interview with Enab Baladi.

Speaking to Enab Baladi, Muhammad al-Zain, a barber displaced from the Syrian capital of Damascus, was severely affected by the power outages in Afrin because al-Zain mainly uses electric devices (electric clipper or trimmer) at his work, expecting the electricity will save him time and efforts. However, he is currently resorting to the old traditional way, cutting hair with scissors.

Zahir Koujah, one of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) of Darat Izza, in the western countryside of Aleppo, owns a bakery. Koujah emphasized to Enab Baladi that the power provided by electric generators, if available, is interrupted frequently, which led to the stoppage of the bakery’s work. 

The prices of subscription to electric generators have recently increased due to the high prices of diesel given the high exchange rate of the Syrian pound against the US dollar, Muhyiddin al-Zain, a clothing seller, told Enab Baladi.

The price of electricity amounted to 2,500 Syrian pounds (SYP- 1.4 USD) per ampere a week. Not to mention that the operating hours of electricity do not exceed five hours a day. 

Worn-out infrastructure

The Turkish power delivery project in Afrin is divided into three stages, according to the head of the Monitoring and Information Department of the “Syrian-Turkish Electric Power Company” (STE), Mehmet Ngati.

The first stage includes the maintenance of a “low tension” LV (low voltage) network, and in the second stage, the STE will equip the groundlines, which means “medium tension” electric network. In the third stage, the STE will able to equip 36 electrical centers in Afrin. Thus, at the end of the project, Afrin will be provided with access to electricity.

 Ngati told Enab Baladi the energy infrastructure in Afrin district is not usable due to the military operations initiated in the area, but the STE is working to rehabilitate and maintain it.

After extensive study carried out by the engineers and the concerned parties, they came out with the necessity of replacing the ground “medium tension” line completely, for two reasons explained by Najti: First, there are numerous faults in the “medium tension” electric transmission network and secondly, the expected pressure that will exceed its capacity.

As for the date of completion of extending power grids to Afrin, Najti confirmed that it will be in next August, or it may extend to next September as a maximum. 

Delivering power to districts of Afrin and Jindires… What are the details of the project?

Najti stressed that the project is taking place in Afrin and Jindires at present, noting that the project will be completed on the date required. He added that the STE  will implement another project in Shaykh Hadid, Rajo, and their adjacent areas.

Regarding the electrical capacity of the project, Najti said that the STE is working to provide electricity to all parts of Afrin and Jindires and that the capacity will be 100 megawatts, of which 50 will be for the city of Afrin and its countryside. 

The energy meter will be used to measure the amount of electric energy consumed by subscribers under a contract of electric power supply. Inside the meter, there is a card that the subscribers can use to top up electricity from the center. Thus, the subscribers can determine their electric power consumption according to their financial situation, saving the costs of “amperes” for a 24-hour service of electricity.

This article is prepared jointly with Enab Baladi’s correspondent in Afrin district Anas al-Khouli

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