2 min read  | Aleppo, Economy, Interviews

One million people in Aleppo without power for four months


March 3, 2016

After more than four months, lights remain out for more than a million people in and around Aleppo city.

Fighting between Victory Army rebels and regime forces last November damaged a high voltage power line supplying electricity to Aleppo’s sole functioning power station. The cut plunged the city, already used to lengthy blackouts, into darkness.

In Aleppo city, rebel and regime-controlled neighborhoods share electric infrastructure. If either side wants to cut off access, they cut it off from their own territories as well.

Electricity for Syria’s sprawling second city and the surrounding countryside originates 110km to the southeast, at the regime-held Mahardeh power plant in Hama province. The electricity must travel through kilometers of high-voltage lines that are often damaged or destroyed by battles.

The Jabhat a-Nusra-led General Management of Services (GMS), which works to maintain and repair water, electricity and services in and around Aleppo, announced on Sunday that its workers successfully repaired the 230 kilovolt power line, promising “the expected return of electricity within two days” to “all Aleppo city and the western countryside.”

Four days later, Aleppo remains in the dark, Raed al-Halabi, a citizen journalist in the western Aleppo countryside tells Syria Direct’s Noura Hourani.

“They have gotten used to it,” al-Halabi says. “Darkness is just part of their lives now.”

Q: Has electricity returned? How many people are affected?

As of now, there has not been electricity for four and a half months.

If the regime returns the flow of electricity, then the estimated one million residents in regime and opposition-controlled areas in the southern and western Aleppo countryside will benefit.

Q: Who is directly impacted by the electricity outage?

Darkness is just part of people’s lives now. Everything depends on the ampere system: hospitals, factories and people’s houses.

[Ed.: Aleppo residents depend on large-capacity, fuel-powered generators for electricity. Households “subscribe” to networks of generators bought by civilian traders and pay a monthly sum depending on how many amperes, or amps, of electricity they consume.]

The recent rise of the monthly cost of amps from SP500 (approx. $2.65) to SP850 (approx. $4.50) for eight hours a day since the regime has advanced in Aleppo has really crushed the poor the most.

Those who can’t find the money for their daily bread certainly can’t find money for the amperes. If regime electricity returned, it would lead to lower prices for bread, water and other commodities.

Q: Why hasn’t electricity returned until now?

The regime is exploiting people’s suffering and making a tragedy worse for a million people just to put pressure on the opposition. So it is controlling and limiting the flow of electricity even though the power line was repaired. The regime knows that it will reach all the areas controlled by the rebels.

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