Lebanon News

In first such move, generator in Hadath seized

This Monday, July 16, 2018, photo shows Mamdouh al-Amari oiling privately-owned diesel generators that provide power to homes and businesses, in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

BEIRUT: Economy Ministry inspectors carried out the first electricity generator confiscation Tuesday in Baabda’s Hadath, after multiple warnings were issued to generator owners violating a decree to install consumption meters.

Caretaker Economy Minister Raed Khoury had previously warned against defying the law, which went into effect Oct. 1.

The law, intended as a consumer protection measure, was enacted to allow subscribers to pay only for the electricity they consume rather than a flat rate fee.

After the generator was confiscated Tuesday, Khoury wrote in a tweet: “Let the generator confiscation be a lesson to anyone who thinks they are stronger than the law and the Lebanese state’s decisions.” Khoury could not be reached for comment.

Economy Ministry inspectors at the scene in Hadath told TV reporters the generator owner had failed to install the meters within the given period, despite receiving several violation orders. Local news channel LBCI reported Bachaalani received a violation notice Monday and another Nov. 4. Consequently, Mount Lebanon prosecutor Ghada Aoun ordered the generator’s seizure.

Hadath Mayor George Aoun said in televised remarks that the confiscated generator will continue to run in its original location, but under the supervision of the municipality until the owner installs the meters.

The owner, Michel Bachaalani, was later seen arriving at the scene during an LBCI broadcast. He told reporters he operated multiple generators in different locations and has been working to install the meters, but only requested for time to finish. “I do not mind the law, I am installing [the meters],” he said.

The Hadath mayor said Bachaalani was among the owners who had stopped providing electricity for two hours earlier this month to protest the new measures.

LBCI reported Hadath Municipality was the first to accept operating generators confiscated from their owners, which is why the first confiscation took place in Hadath.

Other municipalities had reportedly refused to operate confiscated generators. However, Economy Ministry inspectors told local media that Bachaalani’s generator had been chosen simply because he had exceeded the period set by the judiciary for him to install meters after being issued a violation notice.

State Security called in multiple owners who cut their power as protest in early November, asking them to sign pledges to install meters and comply with the new pricing within a period of two to three weeks.

Some generator owners have refused to comply with the law in rejection of the electricity pricing, which was set by the Energy Ministry at LL439 ($0.29) per kilowatt-hour for the month of October.

The pricing is issued at the end of every month, or the beginning of the subsequent month.

The ministry said the price will be based on the average price of 20 liters of diesel each month, set at LL20,997 in October, and other factors that they said took into consideration a reasonable profit for owners.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 28, 2018, on page 2.




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