Power returns gradually after total blackout to most Libya

 By Sami Zaptia.

 GECOL Logo

London, 15 January 2017:

Electricity supply began to return gradually to parts of Libya in the early hours of this morning after a total blackout hit all the western, southern and most of the eastern region yesterday. The south of Libya, such as Ghat, went for six days without any power. They also suffer from a lack of fuel and cooking gas supply.

This comes in addition to the cut in water supply to Tripoli and some other regions after the Man-made River water supply line was vandalised at the Bir Tirfas area near Bani Walid, south of Tripoli. The water authority reported that water supply resumed today and should be back to normal by Tuesday.

The power cut also had a knock-on effect on communications with internet coverage and mobile coverage disappearing. The Ministry of Communications and Informatics revealed that the Libyana mobile company reported that 1,960 of its masts, representing 40 percent of its network, were out of service for long hours directly as a result of the power cuts.

The state-owned and operated General Electricity Company of Libya (GECOL), which generates and distributes all of Libya’s power supply gave six main reasons for the total blackout.

It blamed the continued attacks on its power stations and transformers (by armed militias and armed disgruntled citizens); the refusal of some regions of the capital (Abu Sleem) and of the country (Khoms) to share the limited power supply by accepting organized power cuts; the closure of the gas pipeline supplying the Zawia power station (by armed family protestors of kidnapped victims/disgruntled fuel smugglers); the shortage of fuel supplies to power stations, especially the Zuetina and Sarrir power stations; some power generation units failing and going out of service; and the fall in temperature which has led to a spike in power consumption.

GECOL explained that its all-Libyan employees worked around the clock overnight as it cancelled all leave to restart out-of-service power stations. It was able to divert power from other stations to make up the loss of the Zawia power stations. This enabled at least some hours of staggered electricity supply to most regions today.

Meanwhile, both Presidency Council (PC) member Ahmed Maetig and later PC head Faiez Serraj met with GECOL in an effort to find a solution to the ongoing power supply shortage. GECOL requested that the PC/GNA provide more security at its sites.

However, reflecting the chaos and political splits in Libya, former self-appointed prime minister of the militia-installed Salvation Government, Khalifa Ghwell also posted photographs of a meeting with GECOL.

The two meetings reflect the ongoing split within the management of GECOL, with the outgoing regime replaced by Serraj/GNA’s Interim GECOL Committee challenging the legality of the decision to replace them.

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