Bole-Lemi Industrial Park was unexpectedly waylaid by an electric power interruption and diesel supply shortage in the market.

An incident that caused damage to power transmission towers left 22 companies operating in Bole-Lemi Industrial Park without electricity. Residents of Summit Condominium, Bole Arabsa, Goro, ICT Park, Gerji Weregenu and Gerji Kazanchis also went dark due to the power interruption.

A transmission tower collapsed after burglars attempted to steal equipment from it, according to Mogos Mekonen, communications director at Ethiopian Electric Power.

"A high voltage power transmission tower, capable of carrying 132KV, fell apart and caused further damage to another tower,” Mogos said.

The Industrial Park, which runs on 25MWh of power a day, is now without any direct power. Factories operating in the Industrial Park are using backup generators to stay operational for the time being, according to Tinsae Yimam, general manager of the Park.

Shints ETP Garment Plc, a Korean textile company that started operations in October 2015, is one of the factories that is suffering from the power disruption. The company is currently using a generator to deal with the power supply shortage.

“The generator doesn’t generate enough power, and our factory couldn’t fully operate,” said Tesfayesus Yitbarek, HR manager at Shints.

Shints occupies five sheds in the Park, two of which serve as finishing rooms, another two as computer-aided design and automatic fabric cutting sites, while the last one serves as a warehouse. The factory, which exports to Europe and the United States, has decreased its working hours and its production due to the power supply shortage. It also has reduced the operation of its finishing rooms.

The problems became more complicated following the diesel shortage in the capital since the generators require fuel, according to Tinsae.

"Factories within the Industrial Park aren't obtaining enough oil for the generators," said Tinsae. “If it weren't for some reserves in their tanks, the factories would have stopped operations entirely."

Shints Garment Plc, which needs 2,500lt of oil a day for its generator, is on the verge of halting production because of the oil supply shortage in the market.

“We're still operating, but we may not continue production beyond Monday,” said Tesfayesus.

The garment factory, which produces sportswear and outdoor clothing, has shut down its kitchen and is sourcing food from outside for its 4,700 employees, according to Tesfayesus.

“We're incurring losses since we're spending more money to purchase food at higher prices,” he said.

Amidst the power and oil supply shortage crisis, the management of Bole-Lemi Industrial Park wrote a letter to all oil retail companies in the capital to give priority to supplying the factories with oil, according to Tinsae.

The Industrial Parks Development Corporation has communicated with Ethiopian Electric Power to deal with the problem, according to Shiferaw Solomon, the deputy CEO at the Corporation.

"We've agreed with the EEP to fix the electric transmission line by replacing the damaged towers with alternatives to resume the flow of electric power supply to the Park," said Shiferaw.

The transmission and substation operation maintenance team of Ethiopian Electric Power has deployed crew members to the area to replace the fallen metal towers with wooden poles.

“We’re now installing wooden poles to temporarily connect the transmission line to restart the flow of electricity to the area,” said Mogos. “It’s expected to be completed by Monday or Tuesday.”

Throughout the country, there are 20,000Km of high voltage power transmission lines.

Yemisirach Tadesse, a direct conflict prevention director at the Institute for Security Studies, recommends massive surveillance by the security apparatus to prevent such crimes.

“The police officers should cooperate with the local communities to protect these towers that are located far away,” Yemisirach said.

PUBLISHED ON Jun 27,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1052]

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