Narinjara News

Burmese Junta’s development: sans electricity!

Sittwe, 24th July 03:
The Burmese State Peace and Development Council junta has recently formed an Electricity Committee in Sittwe, the capital of the western Burmese Rakhine State.  Headed by General Maung Oo, the western commander, and consisting of the Sittwe District Peace and Development Council chairman and other township officials, the committee has been entrusted with the responsibility of what it said as ‘lightening up the township.’

Sources told our correspondent that though a lot has been touted about the formation of the electricity committee, only three hours in the evenings and that too every other day is what power the townspeople have been getting.  The monthly bill of electricity has been fixed at a rate between kyat 3,000 and 4,000, which is about the same as the monthly salary of an ordinary state employee. 

Last year the military regime handed over the power generation and marketing to a private company, Inn-bauk-wa, which after collecting kyat 7,000 from each household as electrical connection fees, failed to run the enterprise due to the SPDC’s cancellation of the company’s licence to market fuel oils in the state and entrusting it to Ubaing Limited, a company owned by the regime.  “The marketing of fuel oils by the Ubaing Ltd goes through a channel of corruption, making diesel and gasoline fuels including lubricants many times more costlier than the actual price, and rendering the supply chain miserable,” said an owner of a transport company.  In the aftermath the Inn-bauk-wa returned all the money they collected as power connection fees to the depositors.

The situation created a power crisis in the state capital, compelling the townspeople to opt for their own supply of power generation through smaller generator sets.  “Our situation now is such that our development has retarded to even to the pre-British colony days, because during the colonial rule we used to get a 24-hour supply of electricity in Sittwe.  Without electricity the education of our children and the growth of the business and industries is suffering.  Our computers are idle and many householders are using their fridges as cupboards!  Our life is so miserable that we cannot even use the basic household appliances,” said a doctor in the State hospital. 

He also said that for an emergency operation the generator of the hospital is run by the money collected from patients because of the lack of electricity and scarcity of diesel fuel.  As a result the patients blame the doctors as ‘extortionists’.  “We don’t have any other option, either.  The SPDC regime without developing the electricity sector has off and on been bragging about the development of border areas including Rakhine State.  But look at our power situation.  Is it development?” he said.  #