07/21/2010, 00.00
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Power cut in Sharjah as temperatures hit a hellish 45° C

Power outages caused by excess demand are creating hell for the city’s residents. There is not enough fuel to run the power plants without regular cuts. Night and day, people seek solace in their air-conditioned cars. Without traffic lights, driving has come to a virtual standstill. Without power, offices are dark and computers are off.

Sharjah (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Power cuts are trying the patience of the people of Sharjah, one of the richest emirates of the United Arab Emirates. With temperatures as high as 45º during the day, and 33º at night, residents’ health is also being affected. Unable to work during the day or sleep at night, many are driven to seek solace in their air-conditioned cars.

Droves of residents have tried to flee daytime power cuts by finding refuge in shopping malls. Without air-conditioned offices and working computers, many companies and business have had to send their employees home.

Drivers and their passengers have been left cooking on congested roads because traffic lights are not working.

All this is happening because for the past three days, a heat wave has caused demand for power to surge, far exceeding the capacity of the local utility. The Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (SEWA) has said that its generation plants have become strained, and it has run out of diesel fuel. This is why it has had to cut power on a regular basis.

SEWA has apologised to its customers and set up an emergency number, but even that service has not worked with thousands of calls going unanswered. This is a serious problem, especially for people who are caught in elevators when power is down.

Similarly, without power gas stations cannot operate their pumps, and remain deserted for hours.

Many foreign workers are in a difficult situation because they cannot find a place to cool during their lunch break.

Many of them have said that at night they sleep on the floor. “At least it is a bit cooler than sleeping on the bed,” one said.

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