CAIRO: Residents of Al-Haram, Sixth of October City and Maadi, as well as other parts of Egypt, are forced to resort to candle light iftars and endure the scorching heat as power cuts continue to sweep across the country during the holy month of Ramadan.
Mostafa Ibrahim, a resident from Faisal district in Al-Haram, told Daily News Egypt, “The power goes off every three days from 7 pm to 9 pm, my wife and I can’t stand to stay at home in the dark and heat, so we have to go out.”
Ibrahim claimed that not all buildings in his area are affected by the power cuts. “Some blocks will have electricity while other adjacent blocks don’t,” he said.
Randa Helmy, another resident of Al-Haram, told Daily News Egypt, “We suffer power cuts at least twice a day, but thank God it doesn’t exceed an hour.”
“Yesterday, the power was off from 10 pm to 10:45 pm, we finished iftar, wanted to relax and sit down with the family, but instead [we had to deal with] the power cuts and the heat,” she added.
A heat wave hit Egypt on Sunday, causing temperatures to go above the average by five degrees centigrade. According to the Weather Forecast Authority (WFA), temperatures on Sunday reached 39 degrees in Cairo.
Officials from WFA expect the heat wave to continue until the end of the week.
Ahmed Maher, a resident of Sixth of October city, told Daily News Egypt. “We suffer power cuts every other day that sometimes last from one to four hours.”
“We try calling the [the Ministry of Electricity], but no one picks up, then we call 125 [emergency hotline] and they tell us they will follow up on the situation and fix it but nothing has changed,” he said.
Minister of Electricity Hassan Younis announced that he extended the working hours of electric engineers in Ramadan and Eid El-Fitr and instructed them to address the people’s complaints and fix any problems that might occur promptly.
Mohamed Awad, head of the Holding Company for Electricity, blamed the power cuts on the Ministry of Petroleum.
“The petroleum sector reduced the amount of natural gas used to operate the electricity generating units from 98 percent to 79 percent,” Awad said.
He added that this occurred despite the Supreme Council of Energy’s decision to increase the amount of natural gas supplied to electric use, which forced them to operate the electricity generating units with low quality diesel that doesn’t meet the set standards.
“The decrease in the amount of gas supplied by the Ministry of Petroleum reduced the efficiency of the electricity generating units to 1600 mega watts,” he explained.
The Ministry of Petroleum denied the accusations and stated that all the consuming sectors of natural gas are being supplied regularly with their needs especially the electric sector.
Mahmoud Latif, head of the Egyptian Holding Company for Natural Gas, added that the rate of electricity generated using natural gas has reached 82 percent during 2009/ 2010, which is a rate that exceeds the international rates around the world.
He referred to the International Energy Agency’s report last year, which states that the average of international rates is 21 percent.
In July, the Minister of Electricity set a strategy to deal with the heat and the increase in consumption of electricity, namely by using air conditioners, as well as during Ramadan, where consumption increases significantly during the peak hours of iftar (from 7 pm to 10 pm).
This strategy included limiting the use of main street lights to 50 percent, preventing the ornamental lighting of streets and buildings during Ramadan without an official authorization.
Younis also advised people to ration their consumption of electricity, by only using only what they need.
Menna Omar, a resident in Maadi told Daily News Egypt that while electricity was stable at her house in Zahraa El-Maadi, other districts in Maadi suffered greatly.
“I went to the doctor’s in Maadi the other day, but the electricity was out for around three hours from 8 pm to 11 pm, at the end I had to leave without seeing her.”
She also added that the power goes out at her mother’s house in another part of Maadi around three times a week. “On Monday, the power was out for around two hours during iftar,” she said.
A group of disgruntled Egyptians created a Facebook page tiled “Enough power cuts…Egypt can’t even see her children.” The page criticizes the government for its inability to handle the increase in electricity consumption and calls for a swift solution.