Efficiency on Hiatus
“ In the news they were telling how the electricity would stay during the exams. It went away for thirty minutes during one of my examinations; I was lucky to be sitting near a window during the exam but many people were obviously uncomfortable.” Ms Salma Akhtar, an HSC student, talks about her experience in one of her HSC examinations, which are on-going at the present, “ The exam halls are small and in each hall there are five to seven teachers present with the students.” she recounts her teachers’ fruounts her teachers’her nd in each hall there are five to seven teachers present with the students.”g to be sitting near strations due to the power suddenly being cut, “One of them said that they thought this was not going to happen while another stated that this is expected of the government.”
Salma Akhtar is amongst hundreds who are facing the crisis of perpetual power failures Dhaka. Bangladesh is still a developing economy but its capital Dhaka has seen massive urbanization over the past couple of years. The population has increased exponentially as well and most migrate to Dhaka for a better lifestyle. The situation is becoming worse without any sight of a solution. People’s lives depend on electrical power: they are the veins that construct society. From Dhanmondi’s residential areas to the commercial districts of Mirpur – Dhaka has become synonymous with power crisis.
“ Me and my wife don’t stay at home during the day because we have to work,” explains Md. Shahidul Islam, who is a chauffeur with his wife working in a garment factory. He lives in Mirpur, Pirerbhag, and it is not pleasant for him to go home after he has finished work. “ I go home late in the evening and there is no gas. There is no water either. We have to wait until the electricity comes back to prepare our dinner. Many a times I can’t take a shower. The electricity goes away up to three times at night and we can’t sleep.”
“ We only have electricity one to two hours a day.” States Mr Shonkor, a resident of Shaidabagh in the sweeper colony, “ Our own taps have dirty water so the Army and WASA has to give us water. They do so from nine to five each day. We had complained to the City Corporation but they told us measures were being taken to help us.”
On the 11th of April of this year the traffic of Mohakhali-Gulshan link road was affected for an hour for angry protestors taking to the street. According To The Daily Star issue of 12th April, people took to the streets with empty water holders and banners to state how frustrated they are to not receive a proper water supply. The same incident had occurred a week ago as citizens took to the same route protesting against the same cause.
“ It’s too bad.” Commented Md. Rafiuddin Bablu, Managing Director of Modhumita Cinema Hall in the Mirpur district, “ The electricity goes away more than two times a day. Most floors in my building have their personal generator. We have to pay 2000-4000 Tk. Worth of watt to compensate for the times the electricity goes away. We need generators to make equipment function such as elevators. Those who do not have generators have to climb up the stairs. It is very frustrating to have to do such things in the business areas – Mirpur is the heart of business in our country and if our government wishes to keep the blood-supply running then they will have to take action now.” Of course, it is not only the generators that increase the costs. Ms Salma Akhtar talks of the mayhem the residential areas have to endure due to the unreliability of power in Kuchukhet, “ Most people are happy when the electricity comes back for an hour then they start rushing to do all their chores and soon enough the circuits cannot take this extra pressure. Some people might have switched on their ACs or others are going for a shower or using water for other purposes so our building’s pump gets damaged. Our landlord had to buy a new one. Obviously, with such electric fluctuations any electronic device can go out of service.” She further states that other electronic devices can get damaged through the same means. Due to such reasons people will be adding more costs into their lives rather than alleviating them.
“ I usually work for 12 hours,” speaks Md. Belal Hossain, who is a CNG driver, “ I need to take gas twice during my rounds but there is not enough gas for all of us. It’s frustrating to sit 3-4 hours in a queue just for some gas – sometimes the person in front of me gets more gas than me because he came first. Some people even cut into the queue causing major hassles already within a hassle. I use to make Tk. 1500-1600 per day now that’s become only Tk. 1000. Many a times I want to take more customers but I cannot because there is not enough gas. So, I sit around. Sometimes I can’t go into areas where there is no electricity as it might become too dangerous thus I lose customers. I sometimes don’t even find gas at all in one pump thus I lose valuable hours by going around seeing if I can go somewhere else.”
“The present government has taken effective steps to import electricity on an urgent basis from India, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and China,” The Daily Star had quoted Prime Mister Sheikh Hasina’s efforts to reduce power shortages on 26th April, “We are aware of your sufferings,” she spoke on the people’s problems. “Let me assure you this government will not leave any stone unturned to increase power and gas production.” On April 27th The Daily Star also had quoted the PM on the new developments to increase energy efficiency by the means on coal mining in the pits from Barapukuria. “ Some people suggest it is possible to set up power plants of 10,000 megawatt capacity, some suggest it could be 15,000 megawatt. The power ministry may make a presentation on exactly what could be done with the Barapukuria coal.”
The PM had stated, as recorded by The Daily Star on the 3rd of April last year, “When we came to power in 1996, country’s total power generation was only 1600 megawatt (MW) which was increased to 4,300 MW during our five-year tenure. We had adopted a power policy that electricity generation would be increased estimating the total national demand every year,”
The PM also stated: “But, unfortunately, the BNP-led four-party alliance did not follow our power policy. The alliance government did not install a single power plant in its tenure.”
On the 27th The Daily Star Business section also informed the public of five deals being signed on power plants which are meant to be up commissioned by August 2011. The two foreign companies, plan to build five plants that will produce 420 megawatts. M
“ Many of my friends have to study with candles.” states Al-Amin Porosh, who asks people he meets of their struggles with power failures, “ They try to cope up with their chargers not having enough charge due to the lines always being cut off. Some of them do not have enough money to buy candles even. Some of my friends have generators but there’s no use in having them as they cannot supply efficient power throughout the house – if guests come they might have to study in another room that might have the lights but no fan. Even our photocopy store complained how they can’t do business in the evenings anymore due to power failures.” Ms Salma Akhtar experiences the inconveniences of her household due to power failures, “ It’s because we keep extra boiled water for drinking that we make it through the day. We use that to wash ourselves. In the heat it’s hard to concentrate on studies. A few days ago there was a session in our neighbourhood concerning load shedding and how stores should not be open after 8pm. A few days later there was a session on too much load shedding. We were told we might have ‘Digital Bangladesh’ as a topic in our HSC exams – we don’t have water or electricity it is comical that we still use such terms”
“ I think the government is trying to better the situation,” speaks Sheikh Nesar Ahmed Chowdhury, who has kept shop in Dhanmondi for 11 years, “ I only switch on the generator when I need to but when it is cooler I don’t.” When asked about the power cuts he seemed energetic and hopeful, “ There is no point in being frustrated. The government has confessed that there isn’t enough power for all of us. I think that by making more power stations the situation can be resolved. We are running on an old power station anyway. We need to make new ones then we can somehow manage the situation.” On asking him about his business he states, “ When the electricity goes away I don’t sell ice-cream. I tell my customers that I can’t open the refrigerator nor else all the ice-cream will eventually melt. We manage. Power failures do not bother us as they use to before.”
Promised Innovations or the increase of a crisis that has already been suffocating our country’s progression and happiness? It is hard to declare if the power plants would be in successful. But what of now? What of people like Mr Shonkor who do not get clean water and must have it given to him by delivery? What of students like Ms Salma Akhtar, who are losing vital time and energy? The situation must be resolved somewhat now nor else what is considered an hiatus now will be a permanent malady in our everyday lives.
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