13 March 2017

Sudan: Citizens Demand Power From Hydro Dam

Dalgo — Residents of dozens of villages in Sudan's Northern state have continued their sit-in against the delay in the extension of electricity supply lines coming from the hydro dams.

For the eighth day in a row, people of 35 villages in Dalgo El Mahas held a sit-in against the non-implementation of an agreement between their local government and the Ministry of Finance, that stated the extension of the electricity supply lines to the region.

On Sunday, Nubian activist Wael Imam told Radio Dabanga that the protest will continue until their problem is resolved. "Dalgo El Mahas area is the only place which has not received electricity from Merowe Dam so far, despite its residents' payment of 30 percent of the costs of the electrical supply lines."

The Finance Minister repudiated the agreement last week, prompting the residents of the villages to stage a joined sit- in at a tent in Dalgo.

The Merowe Dam, known by locals as Hamdab Dam, located near the Nile's fourth cataract, was completed in 2009 by Chinese, French, and German companies, and largely funded by China and Arab financiers. The project doubled Sudan's electricity generating capacity, but displaced more than 50,000 people from the Nile Valley to arid desert locations. Protests against the dam were violently surpressed.

Wael explained that their problem started in 2012, when the 'Fathi Khalil committee' was formed to oversee private funding to the extension of power supply to the area. "But that committee has spent the funds raised for an other purpose," the activist said.

When this news came out, a series of demonstrations took place in 2013. Officials made promises to fund electricity lines if civilians shared 30 percent of the costs - an agreement which was repudiated last week by the ministry.

"There is a complete absence of officials in Dalgo and in Northern state," Wael said. "I do not rule out that hidden hands are working to dry out the area of its population because of the construction of Dal and Kajbar dams."

In September last year farmers in the Northern state complained of a decreased production of dates after the establishment of Merowe Dam, owing to less moisture in the soil following the establishment of the dam.

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