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Sharjah’s energy woes: Could Abu Dhabi be next?
Power cuts threaten more than a direct hit to our quality of life; they also make for really bad business.
May 31, 2010 3:28 by Katherine Azmeh
The specter of summer power cuts is bad news for Sharjah residents. Little relief from sweltering summer temperatures and relentless summer sun makes for sleepless nights and grumpy mornings. Beyond the discomfort and inconvenience, though, power cuts threaten the very lifeline of business – whether its retail, construction, tourism, education, or industry. And unreliable energy supplies don’t do much for attracting foreign direct investment, either.
“The Sharjah power outage has turned into a fiasco of sorts,” the Gulf News said Monday, causing many to recall the power cuts last year that left the city without power during Ramadan. “With the unavailability of the telephone, fax, internet, it has become impossible to get business transactions moving, further bringing things to a halt in spite of our efforts to run business on generator power,” the report added, quoting a Sharjah resident.
Perhaps the unreliable supply stems from the cost of producing power. Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (Sewa) had said that the cost of producing electricity was double the tariff Sewa imposed on its consumers, according to the Gulf News, but talk of increasing the tariff has met with stern opposition, on fears that investment would migrate to neighboring emirates with more affordable power,
“Who is going to stay in Sharjah when it doubles the power rate when Dubai or Ajman charges 40 to 45 per cent of the rate,” an investor and business owner told the Gulf News.
It would be difficult to overestimate the damage done by extended power outages, as even traffic lights and street lights powered off, causing major roadway snarls as police tried to divert motorists and ease delays caused by the total darkness. “The power cuts have started earlier in the year and some people say they have been spending more hours without electricity than with it,” the National reported Sunday.
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