Ecuador Tells Workers To Stay Home Amid Energy Crisis

Ecuador tells workers to stay home amid energy crisis

Quito, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 18th Apr, 2024) Ecuador on Wednesday ordered all public and private workers to stay home for two days as critically low water levels at hydroelectric plants sparked a major power crisis in the country.

President Daniel Noboa decreed "the suspension of the working day" on Thursday and Friday, saying the crisis was a result of "environmental circumstances" but also "unheard-of acts of corruption and negligence."

The country has been experiencing blackouts of up to six hours. The government has blamed the situation on intentional sabotage from high-level officials who hid the severity of the crisis.

A government statement on Wednesday said the reservoir serving the country's Mazar hydroelectric dam stood completely empty, while the nearby Paute dam had storage levels of four percent.

Water at Ecuador's largest hydroelectric plant, Coca Codo Sinclair, is 40 percent lower than its historic average.

Noboa declared an emergency in the electricity sector on Tuesday, and replaced Energy Minister Andrea Arrobo.

According to the government statement, a probe showed "indications that high-level officials," including Arrobo, had "intentionally hidden information crucial to the functioning of the national energy system."

"Warnings and alerts to the Energy Crisis Committee were suppressed and undone" to ensure the severity of the situation was not made known in time for actions to be taken, it added.

The government has filed a complaint with the prosecutor's office against 22 "saboteurs who sought to harm all Ecuadorians."

Ecuador's power crisis coincides with neighboring Colombia halting exports of electricity to the country, as its own hydropower plants stand at near-critical levels due to a severe dry spell.