light

by Haleem

“No light, no life” remarked a shopkeeper while firing up a gas lantern as day made way for night in the Karta-e-Now locality of Kabul city.

lightThe Afghan capital city of Kabul has been in complete darkness over the past two weeks due to fighting between government forces and Taliban militants in the restive Dand-e-Ghori and Dand-e-Shahabudin districts.

The Taliban, according to government officials, have destroyed three power pylons and thus halted power to Kabul, plunging the city of some 5 million into darkness.

“It might be hard to believe in other parts of the world to live in darkness in the 21st century, but in Afghanistan even though it’s the capital city Kabul, the fact of the matter is that people are living in darkness,” the disgruntled shopkeeper, Ahsan, told Xinhua.

The destroyed power pylons, according to officials, had been transmitting 280 megawatts of imported electricity from Uzbekistan.

Currently, just 70 megawatts from diesel thermo power generators and 80 megawatts of power from Tajikistan are powering parts of Kabul city on an intermittent basis, mostly at night.

Since the pylons were destroyed in the northern Baghlan province, Kabul residents are now opting to use old-fashioned gas lanterns, candles and portable Japanese and Chinese-made petrol generators to keep their homes alight.

The ongoing power shortage in Kabul has also forced hospitals and health clinics to operate using petrol-powered generators and even gas lanterns or emergency lighting.

Meanwhile, major production plants have had to shut down or reduce their operations.

“We have no electricity, no roads and no security, even though the international community has injected billions of U.S. dollars into Afghanistan over the past decade,” another Kabul resident, Ahmad Fawad, told Xinhua.

He expressed his consternation while referring to the global community’s presence in Afghanistan and its contribution to the rebuilding process of the country over the past 15 years.

Buying gas to fill his lantern and keep his home lit, an irritated Fawad grumbled, “This is our life in the 21st century.”

He said with reference to the extreme power scarcity in the capital city.

Expressing doubt over the government’s ability to repair the destroyed power supplying metal towers and restore power to Kabul, Fawad said the government could have already restored power to Kabul if it had the capacity to dislodge militants from Baghlan.

Taliban militants who have challenged government forces in the Dand-e-Shahabudin district and adjoining areas, according to Samad Achakzai, head of the government-backed peace body the High Peace Council (HPC), have prevented government technical teams from repairing the pylons.

Kabul also experienced a severe power cut for a couple of months last winter after heavy snowfall and avalanches destroyed pylons in the Salang Pass, causing huge losses to ordinary people and businesses.

“I did not store firewood before winter, as I use electric heaters to keep my children warm during the winter, but nowadays I’m wondering how to deal with this power outage? If the capital city of Kabul has been plunged into darkness, how must the living condition of people in the provinces and the countryside be?” a clearly vexed roadside vendor, Mahboub Khan, 27, told Xinhua.

Meanwhile, spokesman for Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), Afghanistan’s national power supplier, Wahidullah Tawhidi, in talks with local media recently said with uncertainty that repairing pylons depends on improving security, saying security forces have yet to secure the Dand-e-Shahabudin area, stating, “I don’t know when the power will be restored”. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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