It occurred just after midnight Friday. Some say at 1.30am. Nevertheless, a nationwide blackout was brought to an end by ten am the following morning with most areas getting back their electricity by seven am. More than this WASA whose facilities were also affected was brought back by Saturday afternoon.
While we await the report commissioned by the PM from the Minister of Energy kudos are in order for our Engineering Staff at the different plants connected to this particular situation. It shows that our people can handle situations that are sophisticated and can do so with professionalism and excellence.
What is also remarkable is the way the PM took charge of the situation though it was the middle of the night and led from the front. What did she do?
1. Given the blackout and the propensity for criminal activity she quickly brought out the security forces. People now should further understand the worth of the defence force. People who were on the road are commenting on how quickly the Police were seen all over the streets. The speed of mobilization is important in situations like these.
2. She left her home and went down to the Powergen facilities in Penal and stayed there until the situation was sorted out. This is great leadership, one that shows concern and is meant to say that we are all in this together.
3. Communications from the Office of the PM kept the country informed thus removing speculations and reducing anxiety.
4. The relevant Ministers of Health and Water Resources were also mobilized to ensure that critical life supporting facilities were kept functioning.
5. A final release thanked all persons involved in re-establishing a state of normalcy.
This is a situation in which it was easy for the population to panic as well as for criminals to have a field day. While the resolution appears to have been a smooth one we must not under estimate the value of the leadership response to this situation, one in which the PM excelled.
As we go forward we must keep in mind the following:
1. Always to have our generators at the hospitals and other emergency utilities and facilities regularly checked, including fuel levels in the generators as well as reserve tanks. Consider this in terms of surgery being performed. This includes fire and police stations as well as private hospitals, homes for the aged.
2. It might be wise to look at solar powered traffic lights to ensure that in the case of blackouts like these they continue to function.
3. We must examine whether the blackout was a malfunction or whether there were other factors involved. The report should eliminate all extra mechanical factors so as to ensure that any form of sabotage was not involved.
4. We must examine how prepared are personnel at hospitals in particular to get generators going if they do not kick in automatically.
The government has not been praised recently for good work. However on this occasion the response was exceptional and for that the government deserves kudos!