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Bahrain summer power cuts 'inevitable'

Manama, June 9, 2009

Power cuts in Bahrain were inevitable this summer, as demand surges due to the nation's reliance on air-conditioning, a top minister said on Monday.

However, Works Minister Fahmi Al Jowder said efforts were underway to limit the problem.

He revealed there had been 10 blackouts in the last week of May, but said they affected a small number of houses.

'We are speaking about 60 houses, which is not much,' said Al Jowder, who is also in charge of the Electricity and Water Authority (EWA).

'People shouldn't be blaming us for the cuts because the weather then reached 52C and I don't believe any machine can withstand it.

'Yes, we are trying to limit cuts, but it is impossible to stop them because anything may go wrong with the machines or the network.'

He was speaking at a press conference at the end of a ceremony at the Crowne Plaza to celebrate the ministry receiving a top award in Barcelona, Spain, last week.

It was among four recipients from Europe, the Middle East and Africa to collect the Excellence Award from the US-based Palladium Group Incorporation.

It was based on the implementation of the Balanced Score Card, a strategic planning and management system used around the world to align business activities to the organisation's vision and strategy.

However, he admitted a cash shortage had scuppered plans to develop the Tubli Power Plant, among other projects, but said talks were underway to secure finance.

'The mechanism of funding is being negotiated with the Finance Ministry and if it gives the go ahead, we can start work on the plant,” Al Jowder said.

'We also have plans to improve our electricity distribution system and have recently finished work on four substations, which will be operative in the next 10 days.

'They include Nuwaidrat, Amwaj Islands, Abu Ghazal (Mahooz) and Wadi Al Sail (Riffa).'

He said the EWA operated just three substations in 2007, but the figure increased to 13 last year.

'In just five months of this year we have completed 10 and more are expected.'

Meanwhile, he pledged that all infrastructure projects would go ahead without further delays, despite funding shortages at the ministry.

He said Bahrain could take loans to meet the costs and privatise more public services to limit its own spending and reduce project delays.

He also revealed the ministry and the EWA had drawn up blueprints for projects and were waiting for more funding to go ahead.

One aims to complete 95 per cent of the country's sewage system by 2011, while another to develop five villages every year.

'This year we have not yet started (on the village development) because of the national budget delay.

'This is just a setback, but things will go ahead now as planned as we have got the required funding.'

The ministry is facing a cash shortage despite having its projects budget increased from 23 per cent of its overall budget to 86 in one year.

'In the past four years we have managed to increase our projects 10-fold with the same manpower and to me that's an achievement.'

Al Jowder said he expected more intense scrutiny from the public now that his ministry had scooped a global award.

'Getting awards is just the beginning and people expect more from us now,” he said. We are in the spotlight.' – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | summer | works ministry | Power cuts |

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