People in the cities of Al-Bab and Azaz, northern Syria, staged protests in front of the local councils and the offices of the electricity company to denounce the long hours of power outages and the poor services, which caused many home appliances’ malfunctions.
The protesters demanded improving the supply of electricity and requested compensation for those affected by the repeated outages, while chanting phrases describing those in charge of the electricity company as "thieves."
In Al-Bab city, the local council promised the protesters to work on drafting a new contract with the private electricity company that imports electricity from Turkey, and pledged to fix the defect in the electricity file during the next period, without specifying a timetable for this step.
In Azaz, the protesters denounced the repeated hike in electricity prices, despite the constant power outages and inconsistent services.
An official in the electricity company operating in northern Syria, AK Energy, told Rozana that "weak power provision is caused by the supplying source, and work is underway to prepare a transfer station in the city of Al-Rai to solve the problems of weak intensity and frequent outages."
Regarding the price hike, the official indicated that "this point is related to the supply source. If prices are raised in Turkey, it will be consequently increased in northern Syria," noting that "work is underway to deliver electricity to rural areas."
AK Energy rents high-voltage lines from power plants on Turkish soil.
Hani Muhammad, an electrical maintenance technician, explained to Rozana that "the recent power outages have led to many malfunctions in refrigerators, washing machines, and all electrical appliances."
He added that "people are now forced to install voltage regulators to control the power of the electric current and avoid malfunctions."
Mahmoud Ezz El-Din, a resident of Al-Bab city and owner of an electronic games store, told Rozana: "I rely on electricity in my work, and I do not own batteries or have the money to install solar panels to generate power."
(Photos of the protests in Al-Bab city- Rozana exclusive)
Ezz El-Din continued: "When I signed the electricity delivery contract, the company promised that power would be provided regularly and would not be interrupted for a long time. However, electricity outages last for a whole day, and the irregular intensity ruined my devices."
Sherif Demalkhi, a media activist and a resident of Al-Bab city, said that "the electricity company does not deserve the investment it obtained for several reasons, most notably the price hike and the many defects that cause long outages."
The electricity subscription fee in the city of Al-Bab is 700 Turkish liras, in addition to $40 for the price of the meter.
The AK Energy company sells one kilowatt of electricity for 87 Turkish piastres, while one family's consumption reaches 100 Turkish liras (about 40,000 Syrian pounds) per month on average.
Demalkhi pointed out that "there is an absence of equitable distribution of electricity in the city of Al-Bab, as the company promised to deliver electricity to all areas of Al-Bab within a year and a half, but the company's has been operating for more than two years and still not all neighbourhoods of the city are supplied with power."
Turkey has contributed to the rehabilitation of schools and teachers, and the construction of new schools, in addition to establishing and restoring hospitals and health care centres in major cities of northern Syria, in cooperation with the Interim Government of the National Coalition of Syrian opposition.
The local councils estimate the number of residents in the Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch areas in northern Syria at about 1.5 million. The two areas stretch from Afrin in the west to Jarablus in the east, and are controlled by factions of the Syrian National Army supported by Ankara.
The Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch areas border the city of Aleppo and Idlib to the south, and Manbij and the Euphrates River to the east. The region is also connected with Turkey through three official crossings of Jarablus, Bab Al-Salama, and Al-Rai, which witness an active trade activity and the movement of Syrians from Turkey to Syria and vice versa, in accordance with the laws and decisions issued by the Turkish authorities.