x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

One day after Sewa apology, power cuts in Sharjah again

Homes are left without power during the midday heat, despite earlier reassurances.

SHARJAH // Power cuts left Sharjah residents fuming once again yesterday - just 24 hours after electricity chiefs promised to provide a better service and avoid a recurrence of last week's chaos. Industrial areas 2, 6 and 12 were without power from 11am till 2pm, cutting lighting and air conditioning at the height of yesterday's midday heat. Residential areas such as Abu Shagara had no electricity for up to an hour.

Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (Sewa) apologised on Saturday for three days of power cuts during which hospitals treated four times more victims of heat-stroke than usual, a construction worker died from heat exhaustion and two young Emiratis died in a car crash after street lights and traffic signals failed. Businesses also reported significant financial losses. Sewa blamed last week's cuts on a "sudden glitch" in a natural gas pipeline that feeds the main power station. It said it would commit all its resources to improving service, and would strive to prevent any reoccurrence.

The utilities company refused to comment on yesterday's power cuts, adding to the anger of already incensed residents. "I read their apology," said Shifa Ali, 30, a from Yemen. "It was well crafted so as not to tell if the glitch had been fixed and this does not help at all." Ms Ali said she suffered a brief power cut of about 20 minutes yesterday. She had been without electricity for as much as 10 hours at a time last week. Sewa's apology was useless if the power continued to fail, she said.

Mohammed Abdul Aziz, a 35-year-old Palestinian working in the industrial areas, said the apology came too late to be taken seriously. "They should have done this on the first day power started going out and given us a load-sharing schedule," he said. Mohammed Salim, who owns a garage in Industrial area 2, doubted Sewa's ability to manage the power supply. "Today is Sunday and we have no power again," he said. "It is very difficult to believe Sewa on power outages. The only time they think to communicate is when they believe power is back, and they are always wrong. It goes back on again and off again."

Omar Rahmani, another resident of Sharjah, said Sewa should ensure a power supply that meets demand instead of making endless appeals to consumers to practise conservation. "Power usage cannot be regulated in every household and every factory," the 40-year-old Iraqi said. "Their excessive billing has also not succeeded. The problem is clear that there is more demand than supply and authorities should be working to address this."

ykakande@thenational.ae