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Blackout hits Kabul

Kabul residents have been spending nights in dark for more than a week as the electricity imported from the neighboring Uzbekistan has been cut in an intensive fighting taking place between the government forces and the Taliban militants on the route of the power pillars in the northern Baghlan province. The incident also cut the electricity of Baghlan and Parwan provinces on its way to Kabul.

The provincial authorities blamed Taliban fighters for destroying the power pillar in the Dand-e-Shahabuddin area, near the Pol-e-Khomri district.

Most of the needed electricity is imported from the neighboring countries, particularly from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. As Tajikistan’s need to electricity increases during the winter, so Uzbekistan supplies the Kabul electricity. Kabul with some six million population needs 300 megawatts of electricity, according to the power department.

Parts of the capital city including the presidential palace use the 150-megawatt electricity produced in the domestic hydropower stations around Kabul.

The power shortage has been a chronic problem in Afghanistan especially for Kabul. None of the governments with different situations could manage it. In the 1980s, military was used to protect the power stations.

During the Taliban rule (1996-2001) the consecutive droughts took electricity from the people.

The western-backed governments since 2001 have their respective problems in this connection. Insecurity, corruption and indifference are the major ones.

Lots of time and money donated by the international community for the reconstruction goals were wasted by different officials. The donated amounts could build several power stations and enlighten every village of the country. Unfortunately, the governments did not take specific reconstruction and renovation policies. Nobody thought for a basic solution. While almost every country even those without natural resources are self-sufficient, we are still dependent in electricity.

First, we bought useddiesel generators from Iran which did not work. I asked the then energy and water minister that why don’t we invest on the domestic power factories? He said: “That takes nearly 10 years and lots of money.” The government turned to the Central Asian countries and could bring the electricity to the houses of people in Kabul after seven years in 2008 with huge expenses.

It was clear that the imported electricity being extended through the northern areas and the Salang Pass would be delicate, being threatened by natural disasters, security problems and many more. Also the supplier countries could switch it off anytime for any reason.

Now, a mass operation is underway by the security forces to take back the area from Taliban. The government assures of reconnecting the power cables after taking the area, but this is not clear when? Besides that, the power cut could be changed to a new tactic by the insurgents and they will cut the cables in any area fall into them.

Analysts say the economic losses of the power cut reach to millions of Afghanis daily.

Now, after 15 years and millions of dollars expense, the capital of the country is still dark.

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