On Sunday, the Speaker of the Libyan Parliament, Ageela Saleh, called on the Attorney General, the Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Parliamentary Committee, and the Chairman of the Administrative Control Authority to open an urgent investigation into the continuing power outages.
Saleh demanded an “urgent investigation into the reasons for the continuing power cuts for long hours, and the severe shortage of fuel, which aggravate the suffering of the Libyan people.”
The Speaker also called on the concerned authorities to “assume their responsibilities and refer those responsible for the power outage crisis to the judiciary for a public inquiry.”
Notably, angry demonstrations swept Libya last weekend protesting declining living standards, electricity cut-offs, and a plethora of other issues.
The protesters blamed the crisis on the ongoing tug-of-war between the main political players. Elections, which are needed to end the repeated rounds of interim phases and usher in much-needed stability and a functioning government continue to be delayed.
The largest such protest in years took place in Martyrs Square in Tripoli, where several hundred people took part. In Tobruk, demonstrators attacked the Parliament building, and set parts of it on fire.
The protests were called over the electrical shortage, despite the fact that there were other issues as well, demonstrating how minor annoyances can worsen in Libya’s unstable political environment.
Years of maintenance issues, battle damage, equipment theft, corruption, and more recently, an eastern blockade of oil facilities cutting off fuel supplies to power stations have plagued the power industry.
To open three more power stations this summer, the state electricity provider GECOL is collaborating with foreign contractors, but progress has lagged behind schedule. A sizeable yellow generator can be seen outside the main GECOL building in the heart of Tripoli, keeping the office operational during blackouts.
The grumble of private energy generators drowns out most other sounds, as they spew forth bitter smoke from their diesel engines during the sweltering summer nights when entire neighbourhoods of Tripoli tumble into darkness.
Even those who can afford generators find it difficult and expensive to purchase fuel, frequently standing in long lines. Power outages, which can occasionally last longer than 24 hours and frequently disable internet connectivity in entire districts, start to have an impact on nearly every area of daily life.