Egypt’s interior ministry announced on Saturday that it has discovered six “terrorist cells” that target electricity pylons, as Egyptians continue to suffer from intermittent power cuts.
According to the ministry statement, investigations reveal that six cells linked to the Muslim Brotherhood have plotted to sabotage electricity pylons in several of Egypt’s governorates. The cells comprise around 40 members, some of whom are employees of the electricity ministry.
The targeted governorates include Giza, Menoufiya, Gharbiya, Kafr El-Sheikh, Sharqiya and Alexandria. Explosives and chemicals used in making explosives were stored for future targets, police claimed.
The statement named one suspect, Taha Mohamed Ali Salhoub, who they said obtained information from sources working at the National Council for Energy to identify high voltage pylons.
According to Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker, Egypt has 140,000 electricity pylons nationwide across 40,000 square kilometres, with distances of up to 350 metres between each pylon. Securing them completely is therefore extremely difficult, according to Shaker.
However, he told Al-Ahram daily that specialised security groups have been formed and equipped to protect electricity pylons so as not to add to the already grave electricity shortage the country is facing. They will be working in cooperation with the interior ministry and governorate officials, especially in securing pylons located in remote and desert areas.
Egypt’s electricity crisis, according to the minister’s statement, has already been heightened by the recent hot weather, in addition to fuel shortages.
Electricity cuts in households can last from between 5 to 9 hours per day, according to a report by Al-Ahram daily.
At a press conference on Saturday, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab said that the electricity problem was due to several factors including lack of maintenance of power stations. Shortage of natural gas is also another factor, as fewer gas fields have been discovered over the past years that had been expected.
Mahlab also claimed that over the past month there have been 300 attacks on electricity pylons, affecting electricity generation by about 15 to 20 per cent.
Source: Ahram Online