- Some 3,000 people took to the streets of Cape Verde’s capital on Thursday, July 20, to manifest their dissatisfaction with the constant power outages that have affected Praia for more than a month. Bearing candles and holding signs with various different messages, some of which likened water and electricity utility Electra to the city’s notoriously violent muggers, Praia residents made it known that they want no more excuses.
Among the thousands of protesters was Sãozinha, a resident of the Ponta d’Água neighborhood, who affirmed that until the situation is brought back to normal, she will refuse to pay her electricity bill. “I’m already a month behind and I’m not paying,” she said, affirming that this is the only posture Praia residents can take in the face of the company’s “affront” to their dignity.
Among these “affronts” are, for example, “spending 48 hours without electricity, only to have it stay on for half an hour or 45 minutes when it does come.” The situation is particularly damaging in a neighborhood like Ponta d’Água, says Sãozinha, where locals depend on electricity for their small businesses. “Without electricity, the local fish seller, the neighbor who makes popsicles and the other who makes a living selling fresh yoghurt now have no way to guarantee food on the table for their children.”
In the face of situations such as this, the Praia residents who took to the streets yesterday made it clear that their patience had run out and demanded urgent, immediate measures. One of the proposals, presented by the president of the Praia Development Association Pró-Praia, António Ludgero Correia, is to lease the generators that guaranteed Praia’s energy supply over the course of eight months in 2005 and 2006. According to Correia, “it’s sadistic to have these generators sitting there doing nothing in [the Praia neighborhood of] Achada Grande while we wait for generators to arrive from Lisbon.”
In the coming days, a petition will be delivered to both the government and Electra. More than 7,000 Praia residents - nearly 10% of the city’s population - have signed the document so far.
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