About 250,000 customers of the Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board (BREB) are languishing without electricity, five days after a powerful cyclone lashed the country's southern coast.
According to the BREB, it could take a few more days to repair the power lines damaged by Cyclone Bulbul in Barishal, Pirojpur and Bagerhat as thousands of workers carry out the repair work in these districts.
The cyclone moved through West Bengal before making landfall in the south-western part of Bangladesh at 5:00am on Sunday.
But gusts generated by the storm rattled the power supply lines even before the cyclone cut its path through the country. By the time it passed on Sunday evening, the storm ravaged about 5,000 homes while uprooting countless trees and damaging winter crops.
Bulbul damaged at least 95,000 km of power lines in nine coastal districts, leaving about 2.5 million customers without power connection, according to the primary data of BREB, bdnews24.com reports.
BREB staffers were deployed soon afterward to provide power supply to emergency service centres, including hospitals and health complexes in those districts, as soon as possible.
In the absence of electricity, some of the customers are relying on solar panels for power while others resort to lamps and candles.
Some 3,000 mobile phone network towers were down after losing power supply during the cyclone. Although some of the towers are back up and running following the restoration of their power connection, a few parts of the country still remain without network coverage.
Even in some places with network coverage, people are still unable to use mobile phones as they cannot charge their devices without electricity.
Small and medium industries in rural areas, such as poultry feed factories, are being affected the most.
Power supply has been restored in Patuakhali and Barguna but the lines in Barishal, Pirojpur and Bagerhat are yet to be fixed, BREB Additional Chief Engineer Anjan Kanti Das said
BREB has 270,000 customers in Bagerhat, 450,000 in Barishal and 372,000 in Pirojpur.
“Thousands of electric poles were damaged by the storm. Cables are completely torn. In some places, the roads are closed due to uprooted trees. The power supply line that we prepared over the past five years has been severely damaged,” Anjan said.
“We’re losing time from removing the fallen trees from the roads. We’re unsure about when we'll reach the affected areas to start the repair work,” he said.
According to BREB, about 250,000 customers in Barishal, Pirojpur and Bagerhat remained without power connection as of Thursday night. At least 15,000 km power supply lines are yet to be repaired.
“The BREB said it'll take at least five more days to fix the line,” said Farzana Khanam, who is struggling to maintain her poultry farm in Pirojpur's Kalikati village without power supply.
It was found that electricity supply has been restored in the urban areas of Pirojpur but not in the rural parts.
At least 400 power poles were damaged in the district during the cyclone, said Barishal BREB Samity-2 General Manager Ekramul Haque. At some points, the storm snapped 33-KV transmission lines -- some of which have been restored.
“We have been without power from the night before the cyclone. The authorities couldn't confirm when the power connection will be restored,” Golam Kabir, a resident of Muladi Upazila in Barishal, said.