With a complex network of powerful ties, private generator owners strangle the citizens of Baghdad 

With a complex network of powerful ties, private generator owners strangle the citizens of Baghdad 

Shafaq News/ It seems that Baghdad's summer will be scorching this year. However, the suffering of the citizens would not be quantified by the conventional thermometers that measure the weather temperature, rather than the power meters of the private generators that sustain the electric current to their houses. 

The country's ever-lasting dilemma was further exacerbated when non-government power suppliers raised the fees to 25,000 dinars for each ampere in certain areas of the capital, amid talks about a 30,000 dinars price tag to each ampere. 

It appears that the interlocking interests of private generators owners with influential actors in the State (parties, ministries, supporters, or those turning a blind eye, and tribal threat), is similar to the interwoven network of the wires controlled by a single person; the operator or owner of the generator.

The citizens have long been at the mercy of the owners of the private generators who turn the lives of those who fail to pay into hell, all thanks to an internal agreement amongst them. 

Mohammed, a resident of al-Dora area, west of Baghdad, told Shafaq News Agency, "the price of each ampere in my area currently stands at 25,000 dinars. It is expected to jump to 30,000 dinars in summer even though the governorate of Baghdad has set the rate at 12,000 dinars to each ampere."

Ammar Rahim, a resident of New Baghdad who earns a wage of no more than 750,000 dinars a month, said, "we submitted a formal complaint to the Baghdad Police Command about the power fees the private generators ask for. The police responded swiftly. It sent a patrol and arrested the operators, but nothing has changed because the arrestees were the poor operators, not the owners." 

Rahim said he was moved by the scene of the people who gathered near the generator after cutting the power supply from their houses due to the arrest. "It is noteworthy that the operators were released shortly after, and everything went back exactly as it was before."

"On many occasions, the complaints filed against the power generator owners ended with arresting operators. Nobody dares to approach the owners who have established firm ties with police stations and officers in exchange for payments," locals from southern Baghdad said, "some of the owners boast deep ties with political parties, the Ministry of Electricity, and tribes. They often brag about it. An owner of a generator threatened a citizen with 'tribal justice' if he ever files a complaint against before the authorities again."

In a statement to Shafaq News Agency, Rasoul, a resident of the Palestine street, said, "when we pay the fees at the rate the generator owner decides, which is 25,000 dinars to one ampere, they do not offer us an invoice. All they do is mark the subscriber's name on their chronicles that, again, do not refer to the amount paid. Therefore, we cannot file a complaint due to the lack of evidence."

"A friend of mine, who have connections to officials in the Iraqi state, inquired about whether they the private generators in their neighborhoods abided by the price tag the government decided," Rasoul ironically noted, "however, he was shocked that they paid the fees according to the rate set by the generator owners, not the local government."

Rasoul wondered, "Why does the rate change according to the area? Some pay at the rate of 12,000 dinars to one ampere. Others pay 20,000. We pay 25,000 dinars, and sometimes 30,000 according to the generator owner's mood. Nobody feels the suffering of us, the regular citizens, who are getting crushed by crises from every direction."

Ali, who works in a Baghdad market, has lost any hope in changing the situation. 

"There is no point in filing an official complaint against the generator owners. All we can do is complain to god," he said, "at most, the police forces the owner of the generator to sign a written pledge that he would not do what he did again. Days later, or a month maximum, it all goes for granted and prices skyrocket again." 

"As citizens, we can do nothing with a scorching summer around the corner. If we file a complaint against the generator owner, we cannot unplug and change the network due to an informal agreement between the generator owners; Each has a well-demarcated territory. Therefore, the citizens have to abide by the price they set. All of this is being done with the full knowledge of the officers in charge."

"Seventy to eighty percent of the private generator owners do not abide by any decree the government issues. On the other hand, nobody protects us from their tyranny," he said.

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