Saturday, July 13, 2024
Speak Your MindCutting through the darkness

Cutting through the darkness

Values, traditions, cultures, norms and beliefs are passed from generation to generation. Resources, knowledge and power are transferred from one generation to the next. Sadly, diseases, poverty and misery also transfer in this way. Whatever we allow and wish to pass to the next generation generally does.

Some inherited traits seem like generational curses while others are blessings. Nations lucky and blessed enough to pass more good than bad from one generation to the next prosper. It saddens me that some generational cycles seem unbreakable in our country, like the cycle of darkness brought by frequent power outages.

The rainy months should be the brightest of the year but instead, they are some of the darkest. Mild rainfalls too often trigger power cuts that last hours, if not days. Even these so-called “summer” months from June through mid-September frequently lack electricity, plunging communities into darkness.

The frequent electricity outages during the rainy season are deeply frustrating. Many of us hope it doesn’t rain just to maintain power before finishing planned work for the day. Those who can’t afford expensive backup generators have no choice but to wait for power to return – if the work they’ve postponed even requires electricity.

This disproportionately impacts the self-employed and those depending on income from daily work that relies on power. For them, postponing work often means postponing income. Salaried individuals like myself receive our incomes at the end of the month regardless.

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Electricity outages in my neighborhood lasted nearly three days recently. We later heard officials claim technical problems at a local dam caused the issues.

When power returned, we were told unrelenting efforts by technicians resolved the issues. Yet within days, outages returned – over three times per day with no explanation. We’ve become accustomed to the cycle.

Citizens will continue saying “mebrat meta!” when the lights come back on. But we also deserve to know why did this happen, and how will officials ensure it doesn’t happen again? Our leaders must provide more than slogans and excuses.

Some years ago, the government admitted power shortages required “load shedding,” where electricity access follows a preset schedule. But outages now occur haphazardly, with little transparency around causes or solutions.

This opacity breeds mistrust and frustration. Citizens deserve clear information to understand disruptions and the broader strategies to expand electricity access. Power issues impact livelihoods, business productivity, and quality of life. Officials must provide citizens accurate, timely explanations for outages and share broader plans to ensure reliable, affordable electricity for all.

The ‘load shedding’ system the government proposed acknowledges a crucial first step: admitting there is a problem. Interruptions become more manageable when citizens can plan around a set schedule.

Distributing limited power through load shedding respects people’s time by allowing us to organize our days and income. Random, prolonged outages serve no one.

Transparency alone will not solve our power challenges. Officials must expedite delayed projects, remove bureaucratic barriers hindering renewable energy investments, and work closely with communities to co-create sustainable solutions. It is a critical first step towards rebuilding public trust and channeling collective energies towards meaningful progress.

While inconvenient, outages are an economic hardship for many families reliant on consistent access to electricity. The impact stretches beyond hours spent waiting for power to return.

This frustrating cycle needs to end.

Our leaders must take action to upgrade our antiquated electric grid, encourage renewable energy sources, and invest in reliable baseload generation so that all citizens finally have consistent access to power. Ending the darkness brought by power outages would be a bright first step.

[speaker]
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