ISSUE 5 08
crime, but at a cost of saturated policing, doubling
of patrols and employing private security guards to
• After four weeks of an electricity blackout in
Zanzibar, it was announced that power had been
restored. Unfortunately, the scrap metal value of
the cables proved tempting to thieves during the
blackout and many residents had to wait for the
cables to be replaced.
• In 2009, an estimated 53% of Pakistani citizens
were without power eight hours a day, during hot
summers. High temperatures and hikes in energy
prices meant angry mobs went on a rampage and
assailed power companies in frustration at the cuts
that brought life to a standstill.
The loss of traffic lights is an immediate consequence
of electricity blackouts, together with loss of trains below
and above ground. And airports are not immune to
• Traffic jams and accidents were reported during
enforced blackouts in China in 2010, Brazil in 2009,
Italy in 2003, California in 2001. In South Africa
in 2008, blackouts prompted the Government to
consider solar-powered traffic lights.
• In 2009, during the world’s largest power outage in
Brazil, thousands were stranded underground in Sao
Paulo’s financial centre subway system.
• In Italy in 2003, passengers were trapped
underground as 110 trains were halted, affecting
• In August 2003 New York’s subway stopped,
trapping commuters inside, as the Mayor warned
against non-essential travel. Airports experience loss
of communications and lack of runway lighting.
Personal transport was restricted as security gates
and garage doors ceased to operate.
Diesel fuelled generators may appear to be a lifeline
to households, hospitals and businesses, offsetting
the effects of electricity blackouts. However, they also
become a symbol of wealth, further emphasizing the rift
between rich and poor and creating social unrest.
• Baghdad in June 2010 often had electricity only
two hours per day. As well as “the din of a thousand
diesel engines”, small business owners complained
that as much as half their income went on fuel and
• In China’s Gansu province, enforced rolling blackouts
in 2010 led to a surge in generator use, resulting in
competition for limited fuel supplies with transport,
causing lengthy queues at filling stations.
• Nepal’s electricity was rationed in 2009 with severe
and unprecedented power cuts, disrupting schools,
businesses, hospitals and households. Those who
could afford it purchased a generator, while the poor
resorted to replanning the pattern of their lives.