Demands to dismiss electricity minister after mass Thursday blackout
Minister of Electricity Mohamed Shaker - YOUM7/Salah Saied
By AYA SAMIR

CAIRO: The Third Republic Youth Front demanded in a statement released Friday the resignation of Minister of Electricity Mohamed Shaker following a mass Thursday blackout that “totally paralyzed the State.”

Tarek El-Kholy, the founder of the Third Republic Youth Front, added in his statement that Shaker proved a “definite failure” in dealing with frequent planned rolling blackouts caused by fuel shortages over the past months, even before Thursday’s mass blackout, which was unplanned, and which officials so far have chalked up to technical errors.

Kholy condemned the State for allowing “its citizens to suffer a blackout for more than 12 hours in some areas with no electricity or water because of ‘technical malfunction.’”

Reports that Shaker had been dismissed Thursday were denied by Cabinet spokesperson Hossam al-Qawesh in comments to the 90 Minutes television show Thursday. “The ministry made a great effort to solve the blackout crisis,” Qawesh added.

The blackout, which reached all the way from Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast to parts of Upper Egypt starting Thursday around 6 a.m., suspended Metro service in Cairo, and caused the shutdown of hospitals and water treatment plants in addition to regular commercial and residential neighborhoods. Power had returned in most of Cairo before noon, but remained off in some areas of the country for as long as 12 hours.

Many residents expressed deep skepticism that the government was doing everything it could to avoid another such crisis.

“The government is keeping the street lights working during the morning, despite our crises and the frequent outages in houses. It’s noticeable and weird,” one citizen said in comments to ONA news agency.

But Shaker was seemingly dismissive of the crisis, and only issued a partial apology via the State-run MENA news service Thursday.

“This is an unusual situation that happens all over the world,” he said. “We promise to do the best we can to avoid a repeat of what happened, as we will we try to improve the power services.”

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