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Power Crisis Stifles the Lebanese Amid Lack of Feasible Solutions

Power Crisis Stifles the Lebanese Amid Lack of Feasible Solutions

Saturday, 4 July, 2020 - 08:45
Zouk Power Station is seen in Zouk, north of Beirut, Lebanon March 27, 2019. Picture taken March 27, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
Beirut - Inas Sherri

Lebanon’s electricity crisis severely worsened over the past few days, with power outages extending to 20 hours per day even in the capital.

Many generator owners have raised the monthly tariff because of the high cost of diesel and reduced subscription hours, which drowned several areas in total darkness that was only broken by candlelight.

The electricity crisis prompted a number of stores, especially small ones, to stop buying food commodities that need a refrigerator.

Minister of Energy Raymond Ghajar said that power rationing was due to the lack of fuel, citing “judicial reasons” behind the delay of delivery by fuel ships.

In response, member of the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) and electricity expert Mohammed Basbous stressed that the ministry was required to provide further information on the matter.

“It’s surprising that we currently face an electricity crisis, especially since the Algerian Sonatrach company announced that it would commit to supplying Lebanon with the amount of fuel it needs and would refrain from renewing the contract at the end of the year,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“The electricity crisis was supposed to start at the end of the year and not now, if no alternatives were found,” he emphasized.

Basbous asked about the reason why additional quantities were not brought from the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, which has a similar contract to that of Sonatrach with the Lebanese state.

The Minister of Energy had announced that Iraq intended to supply Lebanon with fuel in exchange for food, Lebanese commodities and medicine. But Basbous stressed that this was not a feasible solution, due to the scarcity of food in the country, as factories were struggling to maintain their operation amid a severe financial and economic crisis.

The PSP member underlined that the lack of fuel and its high price were due to smuggling, as there are “lines of trucks that leave daily from the refineries and go directly to the border with Syria.”

He noted that the only solution was a government decision to immediately launch the comprehensive reform process, starting from the electricity and fuel issue, in addition to controlling cross-border smuggling.

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