Jerusalem District Electricity Company (JDECO) warned on Wednesday 15th August, of the dire consequences on the public services and economic activity in the Middle West Bank as a result of the impending abrupt electricity outage if the Israel Electricity Company (IEC) goes ahead with its written warning delivered to the company on Tuesday 14th August.
IEC is threatening to start the process for seizing JDECO assets and start abrupt electricity outages on areas serviced by JDECO including the cities of Ramallah, Jericho, and Bethlehem where most economic activities of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) takes place.
The threat comes at the heels of JDECO’s inability to service more than NIS 500 million shekels in past debt owed to IEC. The majority of the debt is as a result of PNA not being able to pay JDECO payments in arrears for electricity services, the outstanding debt by refugee camps to JDECO, in addition to pervasive electricity theft and nonpayment.
“We have warned the Palestinian National Authority of the serious predicament we found JDECO in, however the problem was never taken seriously. Because of our understanding of the financial bind of the PNA, we have tried to buy time by renegotiating the debt we owe to IEC and trying to work on other steps such as urging customers not to waste energy and to fight theft to reduce the bill owed to IEC,” Said Yousef Dajani, JDECO Chairman of JDECO.
He also added, “However, our efforts alone are not enough the issue of government not paying its debt and also the money owed by refugee camps in our jurisdiction is a responsibility of the government and its time for the government to act. Our Board of directors have pledge to cooperate with the PNA like always, but the alarm bell is on.”
IEC has said in a written notice to JDECO that it will also stop facilitating new connection grids that are designed to match population and construction growth in the West Bank with additional capacity in electricity supply, which will put a lid on many housing and real estate projects in the West Bank, as it is inconceivable to grow and develop new projects without electricity grids and reliable capacity and service.
“I do not believe that the Israeli government nor the international community, want to see stability and prosperity replaced by chaos and severe slowdown in economic activity in the West Bank in lieu of a decent state of normalcy, if the IEC goes ahead with its threat to cut off electricity supply to key cities, towns and localities,” Continued Mr. Dajan, “We are worried about the impact of such outages on emergency and humanitarian services such as hospitals, water supply and telecom services, this could bring the West Bank Economy to a halt further exacerbating the public’s existing frustration with the government’s economic policies and the political frustration of an already agitated public opinion.”
JDECO assured its consumers that it will exert all efforts to avert the power outage and the seizure of assets by IEC, a very sensitive development in the national psychic of consumers, and that it is in constant contact with the government to ensure a quick fix solution is found