Saturday’s papers: Egypt plunges into electricity crisis

Saturday’s newspapers cover the continuous power cuts with big headlines.

While independent dailies discuss the negative ramifications of the mounting crisis, state-owned papers opt for more optimistic language, expressing hope that the crisis will soon be resolved.

“A respite before the onset of ‘darkness revolution,’” screams the top headline of Al-Wafd, the liberal newspaper of the opposition Wafd Party, accompanied by a picture of one of Egypt’s gloomy, unlighted streets, which lately has become somewhat of a recurring scene across the country.   

Al-Wafd’s report states that the country has been hit by a series of street protests, most of them in Alexandria, due to the long power outages of more than ten hours a day that have been taking place.

Independent daily Youm7 runs a heartbreaking headline: “The first martyr of electricity crisis.”

A six-year-old boy reportedly passed away in his father’s motorcycle repair shop due to a blackout in Minya governorate.  

The paper recounts that the workshop caught fire after a candle fell out of the little boy’s hand.  The flame then encountered gas seeping from the ground, burning the boy to death as a result.

Privately-owned daily Al-Shorouk sheds light on the numerous threats that the power cuts pose to all sectors of society.

The extensive report quotes common citizens explaining the daily hardships they face due to the electricity shortage, from robbery and sexual harassment to significant business losses and traffic jams.

In response, some angry consumers launched a campaign on social networks urging families not to pay electricity bills starting next month, independent daily Al-Watan states on its front-page.

The paper also dedicates an entire page to cover the mounting power outrages across all governorates.

Tens of workers staged a sit-in in Martyrs’ Square in Alexandria in protest of the blackouts, which reportedly affect the proper payment of their salaries, and which sometimes lead to layoffs. In addition, residents of Minya blocked off the agricultural highway for three hours for the same reason.   

According to the report, the Freedom and Justice Party has formed a committee aiming to meet the demands of frustrated citizens, who want to be given ahead of time a detailed schedule of future electricity cuts, organized by governorate, and request that an investigation be launched into the purported high amount of voltage cable theft.   

Despite all the criticism, state-run flagship daily Al-Ahram’s lead story portrays the opposite image, stating that the country has witnessed a noticeable drop in power cuts in the past few days.

Al-Ahram continues to paint a rosy picture in its report, praising the supposed “tremendous efforts” made by the government to contain the power outage crisis.

The paper writes that the Ministry of Electricity and Energy is planning to provide portable lighting equipment to cope with emergency situations and to conduct school examinations.

Freedom and Justice, the mouthpiece of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, claims that the crisis is about to be resolved.

The partisan paper says that Egypt will receive its first gas shipment from Qatar next Tuesday to ease the sharp escalation of the electricity plight.

Both state-run papers Al-Ahram and Al-Akhbar run a classic template of foreign relations coverage, stating that President Mohamed Morsy flew to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to attend the 21st African Union Summit commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the continental organization’s establishment.

Finally, independent daily Al-Tahrir runs a catchy headline: “Why didn’t the (released) soldiers return home until now?”    

The paper says that the seven freed Egyptian soldiers, seized by unknown assailants in North Sinai last Thursday and released early Thursday, have not yet been sent home to their families.

The paper quotes the soldiers’ parents as saying that they only talked to their sons by phone, but that they have not been told of the reason for their delay.

A security source who preferred to remain anonymous told the paper that the soldiers were being questioned by the authorities in order to gather detailed information about their kidnapping and the identities of the kidnappers.