Saturday, November 18, 2006

Baghdad South

They seem to have hit the Baghdad South power plant this afternoon. It never ran at full capacity anyway – if there was any smoke at all coming from the six stacks it was usually a thin stream emanating from only one chimney, or at most, two. But today you could see four of them chugging like a freight train, the grey clouds of soot just roiling out. Only there was even more smoke and dust and commotion surrounding the base of the stacks and the plant itself.

Electricity here is a touchy subject. Sort of like religion is, which is a pretty good analogy, if you think about it. Electricity being the surrogate God of the Industrialized West and all. The plants over here haven’t been properly maintained in over a decade, but everyone expected that as soon as the Americans came, they would fix the plants. Big disappointment. Much of the equipment required to repair the plants is no longer manufactured, which means the replacement of entire end-items such as boilers or turbines. Which, in turn, means shutting down the plant for a period, which is politically unacceptable. And so they continue to limp along, producing 50 or 30 percent of the power they were designed for. As the Iraqis say: “God willing, the electricity will visit us tonight.”

We’re too far away to hear anything from the plant, but as the smoke gets worse I wonder how many homes in Baghdad won’t be visited by electricity tonight?


Blogger KAB said...

Aside from security, I think providing the basics, like electricity, have been the biggest failures of the "post-war". There is no way to win over a population when we can not even provide the basic neccessities any better (and often worse) than the guy we threw out.

November 18, 2006 6:51 AM  

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