Power outages in Yemen’s southern city of Aden worsened on Thursday as private electricity generators turned off supplies in protest over unpaid bills.
Amid sweltering summer temperatures, the city’s state-run electricity company reported that many of the private firms that supplied the city with electricity had progressively withdrawn their services in a bid to put pressure on the government to meet outstanding payments.
Aden, Yemen’s interim capital, was among the cities liberated from Iran-backed Houthis occupation in 2015.
But it has been beset by escalating power outages, deteriorating infrastructure, and an economic collapse that has left thousands of its residents unemployed or struggling to make ends meet.
Electricity supplies regularly drop out for long periods of the day when summer temperatures and humidity peak.
Resident Noman Al-Hakeem said that as power outages increased, many people had turned to solar power, fans, and other devices to keep cool.
In a Facebook post, he said: “Any nation that cannot provide its citizens with electricity has no right to exist.”
Over recent months, the Yemeni government and Aden Gov. Ahmed Hamed Lamlas have traded verbal blows over who was to blame for failing to deal with the power supply crisis.
In June, the governor said he would withhold state earnings and refrain from depositing them in Aden’s central bank in an attempt to force the Yemeni government to pay for power generation fuels as well as overdue bills for purchased power.
The government responded by saying it was committed to providing electricity to the people of Aden and noted that it had spent nearly $1.8 million per day on maintaining power for eight hours daily in Aden.
Power services in the city reportedly absorb around 60 percent of state electricity expenditure across government-controlled areas of the country.
Zayad Ahmed, another Aden resident, suggested Yemen’s government and presidential council should phase out using private power plants and instead build their own while developing an energy plan for the next 50 years.
Local officials in Aden were unavailable for comment on the situation but a government official told Arab News that the presidential council had tasked one of its members, Aidaroos Al-Zubaidi, with the job of finding a swift solution to the power outages problem in Aden, including by renting a floating power plant.
The official, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “There is a delay in the completion of some emergency projects that were supposed to be operational in June.
“However, council member Aidaroos Al-Zubaidi is tasked with implementing quick solutions, such as employing an international company offshore to generate additional energy.”