Power cuts: What Sofia and Pyongyang have in common

Written by on December 14, 2017 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Power cuts: What Sofia and Pyongyang have in common

At times, Sofia feels more like Pyongyang than a European city. This applies during the city’s many power cuts. To all residents affected, those are annoying. But to patients who rely on electric appliances, they are even dangerous. In addition, power cuts damage devices.

The Doktorska Gradina quarter of Sofia, located close to the city centre, houses quite a few embassies and residences inhabited by ambassadors, including those of France, the Netherlands, Brazil, the United States and Qatar.

In this part of Sofia, its most elegant park is being groomed a lot more than any other park in the city, the sidewalks are being repaired and some of the more posh restaurants welcome guests every night. But one thing does not work, even here: The electricity supply is very shaky.

In the past week, power outages happened every single night in that part of Sofia, for several hours at a time. It usually hits several blocks along Boulevard Yanko Sakazov. Sometimes, the electricity returns at 4am, sometimes at 5:30am. Yesterday, the regular outage hit thousands of residents much earlier that usual, at 7pm, just as inhabitants wanted to cook their dinners, and lasted for one and a half hours.

The electricity provider ČEZ is very good at charging inhabitants for electricity, but not at providing the latter continuously. In some parts of Sofia, 2017 feels more like 1957, thanks to them.

It is even worse in the Ovcha Kupel, Gorna Banya and Knyazhevo quarters as well as in villages belonging to the Bulgarian capital. That is where Bulgarian National Television (BNT) just did research on the matter. The network reports, the frequent power outages in those neighbourhoods had made hundreds of residents sign complaint letters.

BNT spoke to a lady whose daughter has been lying on an antidecubital mattress since she had a bad accident several years ago. Her mother said, when that mattress does not provide its functions during the frequent power cuts, the young woman may develop wounds within hours and suffer more.

The same woman told BNT, her boiler had broken several times, due to those electricity outages.

In Gorna Banya, a resident told BNT, during the power cuts, which usually lasted for 4 to 10 hours, she and her neighbours got frozen in winter, since they heated with electricity. She was part of 200 inhabitants, who signed the latest complaint. It will be sent “to different institutions”.

While residents in some neighbourhoods are considering protests against ČEZ in the streets of Sofia, the company replied to some of the complaints it received, rejecting the notion they would not modernise the grid. Their excuse: The wires in the outskirts pass through trees.

Well, in Doktorska Gradina, the power grid cables do not pass through trees, they don’t get eaten by snakes or hit by meteorites. And seven power cuts per week are a bit exaggerated. But that is what things are like in Pyongyang. And in Sofia.

Note: The author’s decision to use the word “Pyongyang” in the headline of an article about Sofia’s frequent power outages was taken during one of Sofia’s frequent power outages.


Doktorska Gradina: Sofia’s well groomed park



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