Myanmar does not produce enough electricity to power its factories and homes, and the country faces daily blackouts lasting several hours, but its dictator Min Aung Hlaing dreams of electric trains and cars.
The coup leader’s widely derided plans to update a creaky transportation network come as military-run media reported this week that downsizing power plants were behind power cuts twice a day – between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m., then between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
“The plan must be implemented to run electric trains across the country,” he said during a speech in Naypyitaw in October. “All vehicles must be electric in urban areas.”
His comments have been widely ridiculed on Facebook. “Due to a power cut, all train schedules across the country are now interrupted,” wrote one netizen following the October speech.
“The railways are in bad shape,” a Mandalay resident told Myanmar Now. “Only a fool would talk about electric trains under these conditions.”
Myanmar’s power plants typically have a combined capacity of 4,200 megawatts, the junta’s electricity ministry said in a statement this week in the Global New Light of Myanmar.
But production is currently reduced by 1,470 megawatts due to the closure of a natural gas power plant, because the Yadana offshore gas project is under maintenance and because the pylons along the Balu Chaung River in Kayah state were damaged by explosions, the statement said.
He added that there were blackouts planned during the warm season to cope with additional demand on the grid.
Yangon factories have recently suffered frequent and random blackouts and can only run on generators, which increases costs, said a member of the committee that oversees the South Dagon industrial zone.
“There is no fixed time for power outages,” he said, on condition of anonymity. “We have stopped relying on government power and are solving the problem ourselves. “
The energy costs of factories have tripled, he added. “We have to run generators. If we stop operations, owners and workers will suffer. ”
Factories that cannot afford to run generators are in dire straits, he added.
Prior to last February’s coup, the National League for Democracy (NLD) government launched two natural gas projects to provide 750 megawatts of electricity to the industrial areas of Thilawa and Thaketa, but those plans were scrapped. by the Society.
Hong Kong-based company VPower, which was supposed to implement the project, also suspended projects in Kyaukphyu in Rakhine and Myingyan in Mandalay following the coup.
The Mandalay local said he viewed the power cuts as a form of collective punishment by the junta against a population who fiercely resisted his regime for nearly a year.
Residents of Myanmar have refused to pay their electricity bills as part of efforts to cut off the junta’s sources of funding, and in many areas have faced threats and intimidation from the junta. soldiers.
Guerrilla groups, meanwhile, have targeted several electricity bureaus with bombings.