Residents in a Jeddah neighborhood remained without electricity for nearly 35 hours after their local power station was allegedly sabotaged.
The Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) said thieves stole the station’s cables in the Al-Shatie district, but also blamed contractors for damaging their underground networks.
When Al-Shatei residents complained to SEC, they were given a timescale of a few hours for the power to come back on. It was only restored after 35 hours after a mobile generator was connected to their houses.
However, residents lost some of their electrical appliances when the company finally reconnected the main power.
Local resident Aala Alsanousi said: “When they disconnected the mobile generator and connected the main line, the voltage was extremely high and overloaded most of our electric appliances in the house.”
Alsanousi complained to SEC, who disconnected the electricity again after blaming damaged ground cables.
He added it took the company another day to reconnect the power.
“We endured three days in Ramadan without a fridge, oven and air-conditioning.
We had to take our food out of the fridge and stay at our friend’s place the first night and the two other nights in a hotel.”
Abdul Moeen Al-Shaikh, SEC’s western sector director, said the power cut in the district was due to a fire accident at the main station.
He said thieves targeting the station’s ground cables were probably behind the fire.
He added: “There are gangs going around Jeddah’s power stations stealing cables connected to the earth.”
He said these thefts began to happen frequently in many Jeddah areas and residents should be alert and report any suspicious acts in their neighborhoods.
He added: “After the fire was put out, we returned the power to some houses within a few hours and those who we couldn’t reconnect were provided with mobile generators as a temporary solution.”
Al-Shaikh said worse than the theft attempts is the high demand for power in the summer. He said the pressure on stations has more than doubled during Ramadan.
SEC said in a statement that it apologized for the power cuts that had apparently happened in many cities in the Kingdom due to technical issues.
It said the monthly demand growth rate had soared during the fasting month to 9 percent from the usual rate of 4 percent. This growth resulted in increasing pressure on some distribution stations and some went out of service.
The company admitted planned new stations were not built on time because of the lack of space in districts in big cities.
The company’s statement added: “Residents also refused to have these stations next to their houses.”
SEC also blamed contractors working on other projects for damaging the company's underground networks. The company registered 250 damage incidents in Jeddah alone in one month, it claimed.
Al-Shaikh told Arab News most contractors ignore the company's instructions and underground network map when digging into the ground.