Monday, 22 August 2011

What's the place coming to?!

So, as our series of visitors are now just about upon us and probably fixed on their travel plans with no way out of it, I thought I'd share a little of the joys of being in Tanzania at the moment, as many of our usual minor irritants are at full strength and a few new ones are thrown in the mix too.

So, the big discussions on the street are all to do with power. At the moment most of the country has 'scheduled' 17 hour power-cuts. At least, there's supposed to be a schedule, but really it depends on who gets to pull the fuses out as to where goes off when. And, of course, even if you're schedule dto have power it doesn't mean something won't break down and the whole town go off anyway - that's just normal! So, no power. Not too good. Why? Because no-one's invested in the national power company for a decade or so, the population has grown and demand grown massively. And we're most supplied by hydro-power and there was precious little rain last wet season so the dams are dry.

Last week the news was all about fuel shortages, with several hour long queues at petrol stations and several of our friends not venturing out in order to keep fuel use to a minimum. An artificial crisis caused by government price setting angering supplies to the point that they say they were required to sell below import prices and consequently stopped shipping fuel around the country.

And now we're out of water - apparently the pump that supplies our neighbourhood died at the weekend and won't be fixed until Wednesday. We'll see if that happens on Wednesday! Meanwhile, we're ekeing out our water tank with minimum use policies...

The good news for our visitors is that there now seems to be fuel in the petrol stations again (albeit rather more expensive!), and somehow, whilst the rest of the country lives in darkness, we on our power-line up here rarely get long powercuts. Rumour has it this is a hang-over from an early presidential decreee that Ilboru secondary school - just up the cable from us - would be a model for the rest of Tanzania and never have things like powercuts. Which is fine by us! Water, well, we'll see. There are always swimming pools...

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