With Electricite du Liban’s announcement Friday that it will only be providing power for 11 hours a day during summer, outside the capital, it is time, once again, that the farcical issues of water and energy are prioritized.
Since 1993, the state has spent $25 billion on subsidizing EDL. This is roughly enough to build a power plant to provide energy for a country of 50 million. Something is not right. And the situation is not improving, as one might expect in a supposedly developed country, but rather getting worse every year.
With each successive government plans to reform the sector are drafted, sometimes discussed. And then nothing happens. Whether through political paralysis or government collapse, the plans go nowhere. By the time there is a new government the plans become unfeasible, either practically or financially.
The same goes for the water sector, with civilians having to spend not inconsiderable amounts of money to secure water to flush their toilets and wash their dishes, not to mention drinking water.
In the 21st century, civilians should not have to throw their hard-earned money to fill the gaps where government has failed. Electricity and water are basic needs, and yet the population seems to have forgotten this. We have grown complacent, and have lost the legitimate outrage we should be feeling at the current state of affairs. The idea that the World Cup might not be screened on national TV provoked a national debate, but the corruption endemic in the water and energy sectors, where senior posts are handed out on a political basis rather than one of expertise, fails to stir us. It is time for the utility revolution.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 05, 2014, on page 7.