Thursday, August 19, 2010

Iraqi Authorities In Nasiriyah Prevent Protest Over Lack Of Electricity

On August 16, 2010 Iraqi police in Nasiriyah, Dhi Qar walked the streets telling people that they could not participate in a planned protest over the lack of power. One local official said that the provincial council had ordered the demonstration shut down, while the head of the security committee denied that.

Iraq is currently facing 120 degree weather, made worse by the fact that Dhi Qar and other southern governorates are only receiving an average of four hours a day of electricity. In June Iraqis took to the streets in Dhi Qar, along with Basra, Anbar, Wasit, and Diyala demanding that the government provide a better supply of power. There have not been any protests since then, and it appears that some local authorities are determined to prevent any repeats.

Since 2003 the amount of electricity available has increased, but it has always been outstripped by demand. Usage is also seasonal with it obviously increasing during the summer months putting an added strain on the country’s power stations. In February 2010 for example, it was estimated that the power supply met 70% of demand, but that dropped to 66% in May. Poor management, fuel shortages, attacks upon infrastructure, maintenance, and breakdowns are also endemic making the supply inconsistent. With security improving, the lack of services has become a major issue in recent years with electricity at the top of the list. That anger overflowed this summer in places like Nasiriyah, which led to provincial governments panicking, and they are now working to stop any further public outbursts.


DPA, “Iraqi police move to block protests over power shortages – Summary,” 8/16/10

Ebel, Robert, “Geopolitics and Energy in Iraq,” Center for Strategic and International Studies, August 2010

Myers, Steven Lee, “A Benchmark of Progress, Electrical Grid Fails Iraqis,” New York Times, 8/1/10

Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, “Quarterly and Semiannual Report to the United States Congress,” 7/30/10

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