Saturday, 26 December 2009


In the Philippines, they call power cuts 'brownouts', which seems strange, because it's definitely a 'blackout'. The lights are on, or they are off.

Last week, we had four 'brownouts' in four days.

The first came early on Monday, and was due to a collapsing cable in Bucas Grande, the island between Siargao and the 'mainland' of Mindanao. There is a 26km stretch which has to be inspected every time something, not diagnosed beforehand, happens like this.

Anything can cut the line; broken or wet insulators, landslides or tree collapses

There is a small town (Socorro) at one end, and nothing much at the other. It's a long trek, and the guys from SIARELCO didn't get the power going until 3am the next morning.

They have a very difficult job to try and maintain an electrical distribution system that has no real money to invest in new equipment.

Then, next morning, there was another 'brownout' for most of the morning, but I was so enraged that I didn't call my contact at SIARELCO to find out what was happening. So I don't know what caused this.

Then, later that day, the National Power Corporation decided to cut the power between 5 and 8pm because of overall short capacity, without notice.

On Thursday, there was another blackout, due to a cable problem between my town and the feeder town, Dapa. This was fixed within an hour thanks to the hard-working guys from SIARELCO.

SIARELCO is a feeder cooperative, taking electrical supplies from the mainland, and sending them around the island, but they don't appear to be investing much in repairing or renewing the feeder network.

As they have cut off my electricity supply (with a pair of pliers) just a few days after I received my bill, but was absent at the time I think they should do better than this.

I suspect (but I have no evidence or proof) that the Standard Operating Practice is obtaining, and someone in SIARELCO is siphoning off funds.

No comments: