06 August 2015

The ongoing electricity crisis in Lebanon, although a permanent fixture, has become unmanageable. At the hottest time of the year, the Lebanese also face the worst power cuts, rendering the unbearable heat and humidity even more painful. And now those allegedly in charge of the situation are putting up their hands and absolving themselves of responsibility.

Energy Minister Arthur Nazarian huffed Wednesday that he has no magical cures or immediate remedies for the crisis, which leaves many people without power for hours, even while they are paying doubly for electricity – to the government and to private generator owners, and at extortionate rates.

But Nazarian should not need to resort to magic, he should be able to implement long-term plans to alleviate the frankly now embarrassing electricity crisis. So-called developing countries around the world have better power situations than in Lebanon, supposedly one of the more developed countries in the region. Iraq, which saw its infrastructure largely destroyed in only its most recent war, has better, lower cost electricity than Lebanon.

Since the end of the Civil War, some $25 billion has been spent on electricity, representing around one-third of the current deficit. But where has this gone and how has it been spent? Moreover, who has benefitted?

The Lebanese deserve accountability and they deserve answers. They deserve power 24 hours every day, and they deserve consistency.

And they deserve ministers in power who know what they are doing, not individuals who have received their titles through favors and nepotism and who are not up to the job at hand.