Lighting Up Benghazi: Renovation of Al-Laithi Electricity Station

lighting up benghazi 1One of Benghazi's main shopping streets. Citizens can now safely shop at night as power cuts have drastically decreased. Photo: ©UNDP/Nada Elfeituri

 

During the clashes in Benghazi in 2014, numerous power stations were severely affected. These caused an overload on the operating station and electricity grid, which lead to constant power cuts and black outs across the city.

Highlights

  • During the clashes in Benghazi in 2014, numerous power stations were severely affected. These caused an overload on the operating station and electricity grid, which lead to constant power cuts and black outs across the city.
  • The Stabilization Facility for Libya repaired a key power station located in the Al-Laithi district to lessen the load on the main grid.
  • Now people have noticed that the power cuts in Benghazi are less frequent and of a shorter duration.

“When the power goes off, life stops,” explained Aziza Mohamed, a resident of the Al-Laithi district in Benghazi. “We can’t turn on the lights or the television, we can’t use the internet. If the power outage goes on for too long, the phone lines stop working too. It makes us feel like we’re cut off from the rest of the world.”

City-wide power cuts have affected the approximately one million people who reside in Benghazi. These cuts would last as long as 12 hours a day, particularly during the summer months when the load increased on the electricity grid. The lack of power has affected not just residents but public services such as hospitals and schools, as well as private businesses.

“There are medicines that need to be stored at a certain temperature,” said Mohammed, an employee at a local pharmacy in Benghazi’s Berka neighborhood. ” Some medicines are affected by increased humidity. Without power, we can’t properly store our medicine, so we have to pay a lot to buy and maintain a generator to keep our business going.”

Many people have had to buy generators as a temporary solution to cope with the energy problem. But this quick fix has its own draw backs; its sound is loud and disruptive, and they need to be refueled often particularly if used for long hours. The price of generators has also been steadily increasing due to the demand. 

lighting up benghazi 2Children engaged in colouring activities at a pre-school in Benghazi. Continuous electricity to power lights, ACs and other equipment are needed for schools such as this one to operate. Photo: ©UNDP/Nada Elfeituri.

Jumana Al-Raq’i is the principal of the Bengo Summer Club, a school for young kids that offers educational and cultural activities during the summer holidays. “When the power goes out, our biggest challenge is dealing with the heat. Without the air conditioners, the temperature inside the classrooms becomes very intolerable for the kids.  The pool is a good way to resist the heat, but it also requires electricity to pump the water. We can’t afford to buy a generator to power the whole school, and so when the power goes off we really suffer.”

lighting up benghazi 3Residents in Benghazi have been suffering from extended power cuts for years, affecting everyday life. Photo: ©UNDP/Nada Elfeituri.

Temperatures in Benghazi can reach a high of 40 degrees during the summer. The Stabilization Facility for Libya implemented by UNDP repaired a key power station located in the Al-Laithi district to lessen the load on the main grid. This station was badly damaged during the clashes, and needed swift rehabilitation. The project repaired and renovated the main building and replaced the damaged machines with new equipment. Now people have noticed that the power cuts in Benghazi are less frequent and of a shorter duration.

 

 “The renovation of the power station is very important because it provides a long-lasting solution to the problem of power cuts,” said Jumana. “I was really happy to hear about the project, because it helps my school and my students. These are good steps to finally solve the electricity crisis.”

Aziza also expressed her happiness about the project. “It doesn’t completely solve the problem but at least it solve it partially reducing the number of hours of power cuts, so we don’t spend too much time in the dark or disconnected.”

lighting up benghazi 4Students of the Bengo Summer School enjoying the cool breeze of the AC as they dance to the music that come from the speakers during their exercise period. Photo: ©UNDP/Nada Elfeituri.

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