“I really want to have electricity so I can see what I am studying,” said 9th grade student Shehab Alreashi.
“We want electricity, we want to study,” is a slogan that has been chanted on Wednesday in the protest against electricity blackouts in Sana’a in front of the Ministry of Electricity.
Electricity has become a necessity of modern life and when it is not provided, it produces a negative impact on all aspects of people’s lives. Khaled Alabarh, an activist, said that “for me, most of the aspects of my life stop because they depend on electricity.”
Electricity in Yemen is a complicated problem that began a long time ago. It was and still is a problem for everyone in the society: doctors, employees, teachers, and students. During the youth revolution in 2011 power outages increased in number and would last for days at a time.
The famous character which is always accused of the sabotage of electricity lines and for the frequent power outages is called ” Kolfot”. Kolfot is a big family in Mareb. This ” Kolfot ” is the only one blamed for the repeated sabotage on electricity by the public and sometimes by the government.
Alsawadi said that he has some relatives that will be completing their high school exams in the coming two weeks. “I asked one of them about how his relation is with the electricity these days, and he replied that when he prepares himself for studying, If there is electricity, he looks for his books then.”
“I do not have someone close to me who will have exams in two weeks or so but I consider all students who run their final tests soon close to me. I expect that the averages will be low this year due to several factors, the most important is power outages,” spoke Alabarah. Electricity deprives students from studying and preparing for the exams.
Mona Mohammed agrees, saying that “Power outrages will affect the student’s studying and therefore their total averages.”
The problems are many and varied in terms of electricity in Yemen. Besides the end of the lifespan of the stations, the most important problem is the repeated attacks on electricity lines. Six sides bear the responsibility according to Alabarah “former President, the remnants of his regime, generals and leaders of the army, influential figures in the government, sheikhs of Mareb, companies which repair the damage, and the owners of power stations in Sana’a, which were chartered by the state for enormous amounts of money.”
“I think that we can call these outrages “the political power outages,”
The failure of the current government of protecting electricity towers and not providing solutions to eliminate the causes has become of a political issue.
“Nothing has been changed because the government has not changed yet,” Alabarah commented.
The most harmful issues are the numerous humanitarian cases, such as patients with renal failure, heart patients who live under intensive care, children who need special care, and students who will be performing their exams soon. All groups are affected by the electricity outages, but these categories are the most affected. People are harmfully affected by these outages such as patients in hospitals, factories, shopkeepers, and citizens in coastal areas.
Mona Mohamed, an English teacher, commented on these blackouts saying that “in all respects, at home, at the university, at school, at work and everywhere, blackouts affect us negatively.”
“My suggestions is talking to those who cut the electricity lines, as well as deterring them, or if possible the government could transfer electricity from Mareb.”
These outrages disorder the electric tools, costal places like Alhodiada and Aden are also strongly affected.
Motors or generators have been considered as a necessity, rather than depending on electricity of public services. “We have a generator but how much it will bear?” wondered Mona.
One fact is that simple people are affected negatively. “Nothing has changed because the officials do not care , they are satisfied by their electricity generators, they are not affected at all and because it is a political problem of an unproductive government,” pointed out Mona.
The daily interruptions of electricity negatively effects most people’s lives significantly. Ali Alsawadi, a student in Sana’a University and a taxi driver said that ” When it is off all my work which I am obliged to do stops, which makes me frustrated and angry for not being able to complete any of my duties.”
The opacity and disinformation that the government is portraying regarding this problem is strange, according to Alsawadi. Sometimes it accuses people, another time it accuses a political party.
For Alsawadi this problem is not caused by Yemeni citizens, “I do not think that there is an internal political motive.”
For example, some oil discoveries appeared in Al-Jawf, large quantity of oil. Shortly after the discovery Saudi border guards to forcibly occupy a number of kilometers of our land.
“Undoubtedly most of the attacks on oil pipelines carried out by gangs is to intimidate oil companies from investing in Yemen, giving them the control on the daily price of oil production,” claimed Alsawadi.
The only one responsible for electricity is the government and more specifically it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Electricity and the Minister himself, Saleh Basomaea.
Rasha Jarhum, a development consultant, gave a complete analysis on this issue saying that “Saleh, former president, has stolen 60 stations for electricity generation plants like the one in Mareb station during 30 years of ruling the country.” Besides that he is believed to support “Kolfot” who is behind electricity sabotage.
Jarhum continued, saying “according to the World Bank, 40% of the Yemeni people-only 10 million people- receive electricity services, assuming that the rate is 7 members in a family. With 10 million people in 1.4 million families, we assume that they pay 5,000 riyals (approximately $23) as electricity bills, that means the state’s income from electricity is $32.8 million per month. In a year it reaches up to $394 million. This amount is the cost of a power plant which generates 800 MW, twice as much Mareb station generates now.”
Solutions should come through a deep and transparent study of the issue of electricity and it must address who is the beneficiary of what is happening. In the light of this study, the solutions will be favorable and affordable on the condition that those who bear responsibility from any side be punished.
Many suggest that the government start taking this issue seriously in order to find the best solution, considering electricity is one of the necessary things in our daily lives and one of the basic rights of citizens. Many regions and areas in Yemen are still without electricity, as provided by the statistics of the World Bank. “Although we are in the twenty-first century, there is no electricity in my region!” exclaimed Alabarah.
Jarhum suggests that it is better not to fix the station in Mareb and deposit the amounts of electricity bills into funding a new electricity plant in an area where civilized people reside.
The organized sabotage on power not only affects people but also household appliances. Problems might occur due to sudden and frequent electricity outages where household appliances are exposed and become useless.
“How can a government which is incapable of guarding electricity lines be called a government!” Mona said.