The past few years have seen increasing strains put on Sharjah's electricity system. The increase in numbers of residences and businesses has outstripped the electricity and water authority's (SEWA's) ability and/or inclination to provide more 'lectric or sufficient electric string to deliver it.
Result: rolling power cuts. An hour or two once in a blue moon might, in extremis, be tolerable. This is what happened with tedious regularity when I first moved into a flat in Abu Shaghara district, and I lived in perpetual fear of being trapped all night in the lift.
But now we have reports of huge power cuts lasting hours and hours. Frozen foods are ruined; people are trapped in lifts; traffic lights don't work. And when it's pushing 40C at night and close to 50C in the heat of the day, the lack of air conditioning is not trivial.
Massive numbers of the affected population live in apartment blocks. Unlike traditional houses, and exactly like modern, traditional-looking houses, the residences are not designed to function without air conditioning. With neither aircon nor insulation there's no way to pump out the heat that pours in through the walls.
What solutions are on offer?
- Sleeping in your air-conditioned car is possible.
- A paraffin stove in your high-rise might be the only way to get cooked food.
- It might be possible to run a portable air conditioner off a petrol-powered generator.
But these solutions are fraught with their own set of problems:-
- Carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Food poisoning from putrid defrosted and inadequately cooked food.
- Apartment blocks burning to the ground.
All these problems and more, available to Sharjah residents as a result of SEWA's inability or unwillingness to provide the services for which they charge.