Sri Lanka Experiences A Temporary Power Outage After A Main Transmission Line Fails

Vehicles move on a road past buildings partially lit during a countrywide power outage in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023. The outage is reportedly due to a system failure. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Vehicles move on a road past buildings partially lit during a countrywide power outage in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023. The outage is reportedly due to a system failure. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka experienced an island-wide power outage for several hours Saturday after a system failure in one of the main transmission lines, the country’s power and energy ministry said.

The power outage began Saturday evening and continued for several hours.

“Step by step restorations are underway and it may take few hours to completely restore the power supply,” said the ministry in a statement.

Sri Lanka largely depends on hydro power for power generation, while coal and oil are used to cover the balance. During the dry season, the country is compelled to use more thermal power for generation of electricity.

Sri Lanka experienced several hours of daily power cuts last year for several months due to plunging water levels powering hydroelectric dams. The power crisis worsened as Sri Lanka faced difficulty in importing sufficient stocks of oil and coal after the country’s foreign reserves were depleted during an unprecedented economic crisis.

Sri Lanka plunged into am economic crisis in 2022, creating severe shortages and drawing strident protests that led to the ouster of then-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. It declared bankruptcy in April 2022 with more than $83 billion in debt — more than half of it to foreign creditors.

Under new President Ranil Wickremesinghe, a continuous power supply has been restored. But there has been growing public dissatisfaction with the government’s efforts to increase revenue by raising electricity rates and imposing heavy new income taxes on professionals and businesses.

Sri Lanka has sought the support of the International Monetary Fund to rescue the economy.

The IMF agreed in March to a $2.9 billion bailout package, releasing the first payment shortly thereafter. However, the IMF delayed the second tranche, citing inadequate oversight and debt restructuring.

An IMF review in September said Sri Lanka’s economy was recovering but the country needed to improve its tax administration, eliminate exemptions and crack down on tax evasion.

Sri Lankan government officials have expressed confidence over the last two weeks that the IMF would provide the $334 million installment before the end of the year since the island nation received required financial assurances from its bilateral creditors, including China, Japan and India.