Narinjara News

Power in Western Burma faces serious setback

Sittwe, 26
th March 03:  The power sector in Rakhine State in western Burma is in utter jeopardy due to the inability on part of the ruling State Peace and Development Council junta to run the power houses, reports our correspondent from Sittwe, the capital of the western member of Burma.

Though the junta made a formal agreement to privatise the power house and the entire power distribution network with a private farm, the Inbaukwa Company, from January this year, the junta’s plan fell flat on its face for a number of reasons, said a source in the State Electricity Department.  After getting the monopoly to run the powerhouse the private company announced that it would distribute power by charging kyat 60,000 for each of the customers.

“The plan was very high-sounding from the very beginning,” said the official.  “Where for the lack of necessary fuel oil the diesel power houses in the state could not be run more than three hours a day, the commitment by the private company to supply electricity round the clock seemed to be far-fetched.  First the supply of fuel oil: where a number of government offices are not getting adequate amount of fuel for running their vehicles, where could the company overnight ensure the smooth supply of fuel oil?” he said.

In the absence of a viable power source, the well-to-do residents of Sittwe are making a brisk business by making use of small and portable generators.  From the neighbours many of the owners charge as much as kyat 300 for each of the bare bulbs, kyat 700 for two feet long fluorescent tubes in a month, while the power supply is maintained at barely three and a half hours a day, between six and nine thirty in the evening.

The absence of power has wreaked havoc in the industrial sector: small workshops have been forced to go out of business, and in the State General Hospital the patients have to buy fuel oil for surgeries, he said.  Students are also the worst sufferers due to lack of electricity.

A well-known businessman also commented,  “how effective the boasting of the development of border areas by the SPDC junta could easily be measured by the absence of basic infrastructure like power in the state.  Though there is a vast potential for natural gas in the offshore Rakhine State any junta of Burma including the present one will hardly take into consideration about the development of this state.  Now we only hear about selling the gas from Rakhine State to nearby countries including Bangladesh and India.  This is plain exploitation in a gigantic scale, because not the junta alone is party to the deal but also foreign multinationals and governments are set to fleece Rakhine State dry, a grossly inhuman and shameful act where the interest of the local population is given total disregard.  In this case India could come up with the idea of bringing in their companies here for the infrastructure development of the region including the power sector.  That will open up doors to Indian business as well as befriend the people in the region who will never feel getting sidelined.”  #