Electricity fluctuations cause hardships to Syrians

A household freezer in Daraa city - January 24, 2024 (Enab Baladi\Sarah al-Ahmad)

A household freezer in Daraa city - January 24, 2024 (Enab Baladi\Sarah al-Ahmad)

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The sufferings of Syrians with the ongoing electricity outages continue, in addition to the fluctuations of the current when available, resulting in damage to some electrical appliances amid rising prices.

The long hours of electricity outages and its high voltage return, along with random disconnections affecting most areas under regime control, have resulted in substantial financial losses to the electrical appliances in homes of residents living under deteriorating living and economic conditions.

Breakdowns exhaust Syrians

“For years we have been facing this situation not only in winter but every year many household appliances break down due to the frequent power outages, with only two hours of electricity following a four-hour cut,” laments Youssef al-Shehadeh to Enab Baladi over the recurring electricity cuts in Daraa.

Al-Shehadeh (56 years old), a resident of al-Kashef neighborhood in Daraa city and an employee at the Workers’ Union Syndicate, told Enab Baladi that the motor of his refrigerator broke down this winter. He repaired it for 400,000 Syrian pounds, which is double his monthly salary of 200,000 Syrian pounds.

The exchange rate of the Syrian pound reached 14,750 against the US dollar at the time of this report, according to the S-P Today website, which specializes in monitoring the rates of foreign currencies.

About a week after al-Shehadeh repaired the refrigerator, the return of the high-voltage current and its disconnection within two minutes damaged his daughter’s mobile phone, which she had connected to the charger waiting for the electricity to come back. Al-Shehadeh paid around 170,000 pounds for the repair.

Al-Shehadeh’s story is not the only one linked to the residents’ sufferings from recurring power outages. Many have lost millions of pounds to repair their electrical appliances.

Al-Shehadeh told Enab Baladi that the suffering from electricity cuts and its return whether with high or low voltage is not only his concern. In his brother’s house too, the washing machine motor broke down due to the severe weakness of electricity, and the repair cost of the washing machine’s motor was 280,000 pounds.

“Not much time will pass after repairing an appliance in the house until another one breaks down, especially in the winter and summer,” said Lubna (34 years old), who lives in Damascus.

Lubna told Enab Baladi that since the beginning of winter, they have been in a cycle of repairing electrical appliances “as if we face a challenge between the household appliances and the electricity on who will finish the other.” She pointed out that she paid 900,000 pounds for the repair of her refrigerator which broke down twice.

“We live in an anxious state that exhausts us all because every five hours of power outage is followed by an hour and a half of power connection, and during this this time, it is cut off five times, to come back strong, then disconnects to return weakly, barely enough to light up the home.”

80% due to electricity

Mohammad (60 years old), a former agent for Albilani washing machines and owner of an electrical appliance repair shop in Daraa city, told Enab Baladi that during the day, he receives many broken electrical appliances, 80% of which are due to electricity.

The repair costs vary according to the type of damage; for example, changing the washing machine’s tub is 600,000 pounds, and its motor is 350,000 pounds.

As for refrigerator motors, depending on their type, the locally manufactured ones cost 300,000 Syrian pounds, and the Chinese type is about 400,000 pounds.

Repairing an old motor costs about 200,000 pounds if it can be repaired, whereas air conditioners, depending on their damages, range from 250,000 to 300,000 pounds for repair.

Price hike reaches electrical appliances

Jihad (25 years old), an employee at the Al-Anwar showroom in Dael in the countryside of Daraa, told Enab Baladi that the rise in prices of electrical appliances is no less than that of any other materials amid the economic crisis in Syria.

He added that all of them rely on imported parts, in addition to the transport costs from assembly factories in Damascus to Daraa, which increase daily due to the rising diesel prices.

The prices of refrigerators vary depending on their type, from two million to ten million Syrian pounds.

Automatic washing machines, twin-tub washing machines, and dryers range from eight million to 12 million in price.

Jihad added that, for about six years, installment purchases have not been allowed at the majority of showrooms due to daily price hikes and the collapse of the Syrian currency.

Promises and justifications

The Syrian regime’s Minister of Electricity, Ghassan al-Zamel, told the local al-Madina FM radio station, that there is a new study for electricity pricing, mentioning that there is no privatization of the sector and that two-thirds of government subsidies go to the electricity sector.

He pointed out that solving the electricity problem would resolve 70% of citizens’ issues.

Regarding the condition of electricity generation stations, he said, “There is a possibility of generating between 5,000 and 5,500 megawatts, which is enough to significantly improve the electrical situation, but the problem is with the energy carriers.”

He mentioned that the government support expected for the electricity sector in the 2024 investment plan is 14,500 billion pounds, which equals two-thirds of the subsidy. The daily electricity production in Syria is 52 million kilowatt-hours, and the average selling price per kilowatt is 76 pounds while it is sold to citizens for around 1,600 to 1,700 pounds, considering the difference as the loss.

Syria needs at least 5,000 megawatts, according to what al-Zamel previously said, but the improvement in electricity is linked to “the availability of energy carriers and the readiness of generation stations together, in addition to the readiness of the transmission networks.”

The last ten years have greatly exacerbated the service conditions related to electricity in the areas under the regime’s control, where a person’s share of state electricity consumption is 15% of what it was in 2010, according to a research study prepared by researchers Sinan Hatahet and Karam Shaar, in September 2021.

The government has not met the current situation with effective solutions, despite repeatedly promising breakthroughs in this sector, which have not occurred to date.

The electricity demand in areas under the regime’s control is about 6000 megawatts, while the generated amount is up to 2000 megawatts so far, according to previous statements by the Minister of Electricity.

 

 

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