ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 45

On and off power to the people

By Malik Gunatilleke

The overloading of electricity lines, poor maintenance and understaffed Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) depots are causing power shortages in most urban areas, CEB officials said.

Many households in these areas have reported power fluctuations and breakdowns in the past few weeks sometimes causing damage to personal property.

Ananda Nimalaratne, spokesman for the Joint Front of Trade Unions CEB, said that breakdowns are quite normal in Sri Lanka but understaffed depots were finding it difficult to provide the public with high quality service.

“The depots especially the ones outside Colombo, cover a large radius. So when there is a breakdown the service is not as efficient as the people would like it to be,” he said.

Mr. Nimalaratne also said that the CEB labour force had only grown by a few thousand in the past ten years or more in comparison to the number of electricity connections that have doubled since 1996.

“The number of connections have grown from 1.5 million to 3.5 million since 1996 but the CEB workforce has not increased proportionately. He also said 60% of the CEB workforce was over 50 years of age causing further inefficiency in the speed and quality of service. CEB media spokesman told the Sunday Times that some of the power failures are also caused by the overburdening of power lines.

“In some instances electricity facilities are provided to homes overnight. Many complications have arisen due to the burdening of these power lines,” he said.

He also said there was unnecessary fear about looming power cuts. He assured that enough power was being generated in the country and power cuts were not necessary.

“The need for power cuts has not arisen as we are producing enough power. Although the Mahaweli complex needs more rainfall, we have enough water to generate adequate power for daily consumption,” he said.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.