Customers blow fuse over power in Bahrain
Manama, February 10, 2014
Government employees have allegedly been threatened with weapons and attacked after being sent to cut the power supply of people with outstanding bills.
A senior Electricity and Water Authority (EWA) official said that electricity substations had also been vandalised by angry customers during an extraordinary meeting of the Muharraq Municipal Council on February 9, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
In some cases the police had to be called to accompany emergency teams to cut electricity connections, said EWA central stores director Shaikh Ibrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa.
"We send private electricity contractors with our officials to remove fuses, and seconds before we do that, we negotiate with homeowners or landlords to settle payments, most respond, but others turn violent," he told councillors.
"Those refusing to pay threaten our officials with weapons, attack them and shout insults.
"In one case an official feared for his life after a substation door was broken and someone tried physically to stop him from cutting electricity."
Shaikh Ibrahim said cutting the electricity supply was a last resort, but action had to be taken and the EWA had managed to recover BD14 million ($37.1 million) in current and outstanding bills from just the Muharraq Governorate.
"There are 167 families still left with outstanding bills in Muharraq ranging between BD5,000 and BD12,000. Most have expressed their willingness to pay, but others are refusing and we can't give them more time," he said.
"In a case during the weekend, a Saudi national having a Bahraini mother, living in Muharraq, refused to pay, despite me personally trying to negotiate with him and he went online saying that it will affect relations between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, but that didn't stop us from cutting the electricity on him."
Shaikh Khalid said the council could present the EWA with a list of people who cannot afford to pay and a deal would be made.
"We have a separate list for those officially registered with the Social Development Ministry and we are not speaking about them, but others who are not listed as needy."
Councillors yesterday voted to stop the EWA from cutting electricity of people unless they were informed about what steps had been taken beforehand.
Council chairman Abdulnasser Al Mahmeed urged the EWA not to target needy families.
"We are not against collecting payments, but there are genuine humanitarian cases that need consideration, and the EWA has to inform us a month before it takes a decision to cut power so we can resolve the issue from our side," he said. - TradeArabia News Service