The plight of Yangonites suffering from power and water shortages
“Without regular electricity supply, we can’t pump water. Water supply is also cut off sometimes. We have run out of water because power is cut when water pipelines run and water supply is cut when the light comes back,” said a local resident in North Dagon Township, Yangon Region.
These days, the majority of Yangonites are facing severe shortages of power and water.
The Ministry of Electricity and Energy announced on March 7 that power generation would reduce by about 1,304 megawatts, thus supplying electricity under an alternate and quota system.
Normally, the country’s highest power generation is around 4,200 megawatts. However, daily power supply is about 970 megawatts less than the normal amount due to high gas prices, destruction to some power lines from the Biluchaung hydropower station. Therefore, current power supply is on an alternate basis, the announcement said.
The Yadana, Zawtika and Shwe offshore gas projects and inland gas fields provide 1,455 megawatts of electricity to the national grid. An underwater pipeline connection project will be implemented from March 12 to 18 so that two newly-found wells from the Shwe offshore gas project will transport gas to the existing pipe lines. Only about 334 megawatts of electricity can be generated, it added.
Yangon residents, however, say there have been frequent power blackouts even before the ministry’s announcement.
“Even before the announcement, we have experienced frequent power outage. We have to try to remember when the light goes out and comes back. The Electricity Supply Corporation never made prior announcements,” said a resident in Tharkayta Township.
Yangon residents have to rely on the Gyo Phyu Dam and tube wells for their water supply. Water is pumped out to reach the high-rise buildings. When power outage worsens, water shortages come.
A resident from a housing complex in North Dagon Township commented that some flats had no water at all for toilet use.
Some water pumps broke down as they were simultaneously run when the light came back.
As most apartments use water from the Gyo Phyu Dam, they have to rely solely on power supply.
In recent days, an advertising post on Facebook by a generator hire firm offering to pump water gained popularity among Yangon residents.
“Our apartment building has to hire the man who uses his generator to pump up water. We have to pay 9,000 kyats per hour plus oil expenses,” said a resident in Mingalar Taungnyunt Township.
Moreover, some organizations are helping with drinking water supply as they have been asked.
“We are being asked by many townships in Yangon Region for help these days,” said U Tun Tun Oo, chairman of Shin Than Yay aid organization.
Established in 2015, the organization had donated drinking water to Yangon townships such as Dala, Thonegwa and Kayan in summer in the previous years.
U Tun Tun Oo said: “Previously, we donated water to those townships. This year we cannot go there and have to distribute water in the municipal areas of Yangon. This year, they are in need of water.”
The major problem facing the charity organizations is fuel price hikes, so every place that asked for water supply could not have been helped, he added.
Local fuel prices in Yangon were Ks2,195 per liter of 95 Ron octane, Ks2,325 per liter of diesel and Ks2,335 per liter of premium diesel on March 8.
Fuel prices have been increasing since March 3. That day alone saw an increase of over Ks100.
On March 2, the prices were Ks1,780 per liter of 92 Ron octane, Ks1,835 per liter of 95 Ron octane, Ks1,765 per liter of diesel and Ks1,775 per liter of premium diesel.
The price of one liter of 92 Ron octane was Ks2,000 on March 12. Despite a little decrease, the prices are still far higher now than before.
Fuel prices in other regions and states are higher than in Yangon.
“Previously, a liter of fuel was about Ks400 or 500. One gallon was priced at around Ks2,000 or 2,500. My organization could have distributed water free of charge the year before. Due to fuel price hikes this year, we have to seek cost sharing. Our water bowser has a capacity of 3,200 gallons. The vehicle consumes about 4 or 5 gallons of gasoline. Then, we have to use about a gallon of petrol to pump water up. We have to use about five and a half gallons in total. We have to share cost. We distribute free water to the needy people and ask for donations from others. One bowser has to operate four or five times a day. We have two bowsers. As we have to spend about Ks600,00 a day, we can’t help every day,” U Tun Tun Oo commented.
Yangon Region has an estimate of nearly 7 million people; some of them are living in high-rise buildings and housing complexes. Therefore, water supply is on the increase.
Yangon residents say they have to save water on a daily basis.
By Zaw Min Naing