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Sri Lanka is afflicted by blackouts after a major union goes on strike

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English -Thursday, large portions of Sri Lanka were without electricity as a power sector union went on strike in ...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English -Thursday, large portions of Sri Lanka were without electricity as a power sector union went on strike in opposition to new government restrictions, exacerbating the country's dire economic situation.

Approximately 900 of approximately 1,100 engineers of the state-run Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), Sri Lanka's primary power company, went on strike at midnight, halting operations at eight hydropower units that generate approximately 1,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity.

Sri Lanka's 22 million inhabitants are already enduring the country's worst financial crisis in seven decades, with severe shortages of fuel, medicines, and other necessities, record inflation, and a depreciation of its currency.

In an effort to prevent a strike by the CEB Engineers' Union, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa issued a gazette notification proclaiming power delivery an essential service late on Wednesday.

Engineers are required by the legal direction to report to work.

"Late last night, President Rajapaksa called the union president and urged him not to allow the entire system to collapse. Thus, we endeavor to ensure that hospitals and other important services have access to electricity "Eranga Kudahewa, the union's joint secretary, told Reuters.

He stated, "However, the strike will continue."

The union opposes the government's proposals to change legislation governing the country's power sector by lifting restrictions on competitive bidding for renewable energy projects.

However, the administration, which promotes renewable energy as a viable solution to the nation's power difficulties, has emphasized the need for reforms to expedite project clearance and execution.

Janaka Ratnayake, head of the power regulator Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka, stated that hydropower-supplied areas, including portions of the commercial city Colombo, had experienced power disruptions.

Ratnayake told Reuters, "We are striving to restore services and will speak with the unions to minimize public annoyance."

Long power outages plagued Sri Lanka earlier this year due to its inability to import the fuel required to create electricity, but the situation has improved as monsoon rains have increased hydropower generation.

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