Senegal in electricity woes

2010-09-30 15:57

Dakar - A Muslim religious leader, Youssoupha Sarr, on Thursday urged people in Senegal not to pay their electricity bills because of the frequent power cuts in the west African country.

"The issue of electricity in Senegal is not one that can be settled by marches and lamenting," said Sarr, who heads a group of imams and residents in the densely populated Guediawaye suburb of Dakar, in an interview with the private daily Le Populaire.

"The solution is that the Senegalese finally realise that is they who make Senelec (the national electricity company) work with their money. Let them keep their money until Senelec provides electricity properly," Sarr said.

People have already held angry street protests against the power cuts in Dakar and other cities such as Thies and Diourbel in the east. They burned tyres and stoned buses, leading the security forces to intervene with tear gas, according to press reports.

Widespread power cuts resumed this week after a spell of several weeks when supply was consistent. Senelec has blamed the lack of electricity on technical problems in a power station in the Dakar region.

The first large-scale demonstrations over power cuts were in July and early August, when Senelec attributed the problem to bad quality fuel for its power plants. Imams then urged the people not to pay their bills.