Lebanon's Ogero warns of extended internet outages

Lebanon has only been receiving around two hours of state electricity per day in recent weeks

  
A man holds a mobile as he wears rings over gloves, during a countrywide lockdown to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Sidon, Lebanon April 11, 2020.

A man holds a mobile as he wears rings over gloves, during a countrywide lockdown to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Sidon, Lebanon April 11, 2020.

Reuters/Ali Hashisho

BEIRUT: Downtown Beirut witnessed an internet and telephone blackout Wednesday morning after the Finance Ministry failed to release funds for state-run telecoms company Ogero to maintain its generators.

“We had a plan to do some maintenance and change some of the generators, but we didn’t get the funds for it from the Finance Ministry,” Ogero press officer Karim Rifai told The Daily Star Wednesday.

“When the electricity was going ‘well,’ it was okay. But we are operating 100 percent on our generators, and now we need strong and well maintained generators to be able to face the electricity crisis.”

Lebanon has only been receiving around two hours of state electricity per day in recent weeks, leaving many to rely on expensive generators to fill the massive gap created by the Energy Ministry’s incompetence. Authorities have blamed the extended power cuts on a fuel supply shortage caused by a shipment of tainted fuel from Algeria. The economic crisis has also made it more difficult for importers to access hard currency needed to purchase fuel from abroad.

While Rifai said that repairs to the generators powering Ogero’s downtown hub were “almost done,” he warned that more internet blackouts could be expected.

“If we don’t get the money to buy the spare parts and change what needs to be changed, of course that will happen,” Rifai said. “There are two options: Provide us with the necessary funds ... or provide full state electricity.”

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