CAIRO: Egyptians disgruntled with the continuous and excessive power cuts, took their frustration to Facebook, starting a campaign satirically titled “You are Radiant, Government – No to Power Cuts in Homes.”
The campaign’s page, set up as an event on the social networking site and attracting over 10,000 users, criticized the government for blaming the power cuts on excessive consumption and for implementing a load shedding strategy.
“The government says that the people’s misuse of electricity is the reason behind the power cuts, but at the same time we find the street lights turned on in broad daylight, for days and sometimes even weeks in a lot of streets around Egypt,” the Facebook page says.
The campaign title in Arab (Nenawwar ya hokouma) is a play on words referring to these “radiant” light poles that are always switched on.
The campaign calls on its supporters to take photographs of the light poles while they are turned on during the day and send these pictures to the Facebook page, highlighting the location, time and date of the incident.
“We will then collect all these pictures and send them to all the newspapers, magazines and TV channels, so the government can realize that the real reason behind the power cuts is the negligence and corruption of the Ministry of Electricity, not the people,” the page adds.
Ahmed Refaey, campaign supporter and Sharqeya resident, told Daily News Egypt, “We have power cuts every two days that last from one to two hours. My air conditioner broke down twice because of the excessive power cuts.”
“I was very upset and decided I had to take a firm stance, that’s why I joined the Facebook campaign,” he added.
The Ministry of Electricity had announced a strategy of load shedding to cope with the increase in consumption during the heat of August and the peak hours of Ramadan (7 pm to 10 pm).
The ministry also called on citizens to ration their consumption and claimed that excessive and wasteful use of electricity, in addition to the unprecedented hike in temperatures, were the reasons behind the power cuts.
One of the campaign’s supporters wrote on the Facebook page, “All the light poles in New Cairo are lit by day and turned off by night.”
Another supporter claimed that the power was out for four hours at his friend’s shop in Alexandria last week.
Another questioned how long these power and water cuts would last. “There’s no power, no water, when will we be like other countries?” he said.
“We are not asking the government to find us jobs. We pay our water and electricity bills, we need light, isn’t that our right?” he added.
Several local reports claimed that hospitals and factories have been affected by the power cuts, incurring financial losses. Stations responsible for the supply and distribution of water were also affected, leaving citizens in some areas with neither water nor electricity.
The campaign was launched on Aug. 26 and will continue until Sept. 10.
The campaign, which aims to gather 100,000 supporters, described the government as “the reason behind poverty, corruption and injustice.”
Opposition and human rights groups have called for the resignation of the Minister of Electricity and Energy Hassan Younes, accusing him of “failure” and “incompetence.”
Younes had announced earlier this week that the electricity network will be improved, to provide an additional 1,400 megawatts, starting Sept. 10.
He added that this development would help stabilize the network and allow it to handle additional loads.