Monday, May 11, 2009

Electricity brought with student protests in Moulmein flickers out

By Rai Maraoh, IMNA

The reliable electricity that came after student protests evaporated last week, as residents of Moulmein found themselves in the dark, while government offices and homes remained unaffected.

After a 2 week power outage prompted student protests on March 6 for uninterrupted electricity during their exams, Moulmein and it residents experienced a period of relatively dependable power. However that relative degree of normalcy ended last week, when electricity was again unavailable to Moulmein residents who did not have government connections.

“We have been with out electricity for over one week. People have no choice but to use generators for their houses. Before, we had regular electricity because the university students demonstrated against the power outages.” Said one Moulmein resident, “But now we are again without power. I can sometimes get electricity, but only a short time – maybe 10 minutes. We might as well say we have no power at all, because you cannot do anything with only 10 minutes of electricity.”

“When the electricity returns, I turn on my computer; I think, ‘I will have the power for long time.’, But then while the computer is still starting up, before I can even use it, the power is cut off again.” Explained a Moulmein university student. It remains to be seen weather the recent power outage will spark similar protests from students who were decisive in bring power back to parts of Moulmein.

The outages have caused numerous problems for residents who are reliant on electricity for work, such as computer shop owners or students, leaving no other alternative but to use a generator.

“I have to use a generator to be able to get any work done at my job, since without it, I would have no electricity for the whole day. I have no options since I must work.” said resident who runs his own computer shop. The electricity has gone primarily to government offices and homes, as well as residents with government connections, according to a resident.

The resent outages have not only affected Moulmein, but also residents of Mudon township, where there were also reports of wide spread electricity shortages. Never having fully benefited from the results of the student protests, Mudon residents have been without regular power for at least six months, according to a villager there.

This has been a problem for the region since late 2008, when Mudon and the surrounding villages were subject to continuous electricity shortages. At the time residents only had electricity 3 days a month for about 2 hours each day. Despite these extreme shortages in the region, the villagers have had to continue to pay 500 kyat per household for their electric meter bill said a Mudon resident.

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