Myanmar ministry blames gas prices for worsening power cuts

Many parts of Myanmar are suffering worsening power cuts that are affecting water supplies and halting online classes, compounding the misery for residents following the economic turmoil since the military seized power last year.

Photographs on social media showed people queuing for water from a tanker truck in several Yangon districts.

“Every day I’m worried about electricity because without (it) there is no water. We cannot cook food and my children cannot attend online school,” said Tin, 55, who lives in Yangon, where many pumps supplying water to buildings in the country’s biggest city have stopped working due to power cuts.

Tin, who asked to be identified by one name due to security concerns, has to pay 7,000 kyat (130 baht) to rent a generator for an hour to pump enough water to her apartment to last one to two days.

The Southeast Asian country typically suffers more frequent electricity outages in summer due to lower supplies from hydro-power plants, but the electricity ministry has warned people to brace for worse-than-usual blackouts.

In a statement this week, the military-controlled ministry blamed outages on higher gas prices as well as damaged power lines and said to expect more disruption in coming days.

Some liquefied natural gas (LNG) power plants had paused operations due to higher fuel costs, the statement said.

Most of Myanmar’s electricity is generated from hydroelectric projects, but LNG has been seen as increasingly important for a country whose economy had boomed during a decade of democratic reforms, leading to erratic power supplies.

Another Yangon resident, Aye, 31, a laundry owner, said residents were saving water for essential use.

“No matter how hot it is, we can’t shower to cool down as much as we want because we don’t have enough water.”

Many parts of Myanmar are only receiving electricity in six-hour time intervals, according to residents.

“I feel like we are going back to our childhood era where you can only attend classes if you are rich,” said Htet, an English teacher from Mawlamyine in southern Myanmar, whose online classes have been disrupted by power shortages.