Monday, March 14, 2016

Power failures and water cuts: What is next?

By Dr Sarath Obeysekera
I think all Sri Lankans should try to be self-sufficient and not dependent on any supplied and provided infrastructure and social benefits .This is the lesson we should learn by looking at what happened yesterday with power and water supply.

What will happen if fuel supply to the whole country is interrupted due to a shipload of fuel shipped to Sri Lanka is sunk and our storage tanks catch fire? Your mobility will be compromised

What happens if all doctors and pharmacists go on strike? We will be living sans medicines for our illnesses and no hospital to go to. What happens if the sewage plants stop working due to power failures? We will be suffering from stinking atmosphere.

So be ready all Sri Lankans. I grow some food stuff in my small plot, I have a well where I can get water from, and I have solar power and a generator in case power fails. I keep some local medicines, if we have no western medicines.

Video - Are you prepared for a major power outage? The situation in US few years back.

All of the above can only be done by people who can afford it. What about the poorer lot?

Electrical Engineers Union talk about future power requirements and that their proposals are not considered. And they sometimes contemplate going on strike. A recent proposal by a Malaysian company who wanted to install a solar power plant in the North was shelved by CEB unions

Do they have a hidden agenda?

They are unable to maintain existing power supply and fail to have pre-diagnostic program to detect possible failures in advance. Some time back CEB was advertising a SCADA system (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), where they can carry out a condition monitoring system to detect such failures in advance. What happened to that plan?

We have Hydro power, Coal Power, Solar and Wind Power, power units/turbines run with engines which use fuel. Why are they connected to a common network without having facilities to isolate failed systems and provide partial power with other power generating systems?

We cannot depend on the state run systems. Citizens should have right to sue the organization that fails to provide such an essential commodity.

In England, there is a system where people are paid compensation, sometimes to recover costs incurred due to spoiling of food stuffs during failure of power and refrigerators do not run. When the disruption of Gas supplies distribution results in failure of heaters to keep the house warm, the Gas Board provides electrical heaters.

This is how a democratic country should work. The State has an obligation. If they fail we need to rethink how the country should run. In Russia if a failure happens (during my long years I have never come across Gas, Electricity or water cuts in pre –Perestroika Times).

There is joke about everyone in the unit where a failure took place is sacked and punished (by sending to Siberia), everyone including the poor Russian woman who cleans and mops the flow in that unit!

What about sending the officers in Sri Lanka who fail in areas where CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease) is rampant?

We need an authoritarian regime to run this country to create awareness that failure can result in harsh punishment. Not only the CEB Chairman but GM and DGM distribution should resign with the cleaner in their respective offices, and show the country that they have an honour and admit that they failed.

(I failed to mention about the minister in charge of power supply!)

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