Power Back in Bangladesh After Grid Failure Causes Blackout

The pulse | Economy | South Asia

Bangladesh’s impressive recent economic growth has been threatened by power shortages.

Electricity supply in Bangladesh was restored after the South Asian country suffered a blackout following the failure of its national power grid, officials said.

The blackout, which affected much of the country, began at 2:05 p.m. Tuesday and lasted nearly seven hours before power was fully restored at 9 p.m. It was not immediately clear what caused the failure.

Many large shopping malls in the capital Dhaka closed early on Tuesday night. Elsewhere, people gathered at fuel stations to collect diesel to run standby generators and market vendors operated by candlelight.

Nasul Hamid, deputy minister for power, energy and mineral resources, said in a statement that he regretted “temporary inconveniences” caused by the blackout.

Officials from the state-run Bangladesh Power Development Board earlier said power transmission had failed in the eastern part of the country.

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All power plants were fired and electricity was cut in Dhaka and other big cities, said Shameem Hasan, a spokesman for the energy department.

Bangladesh’s impressive recent economic growth has been threatened by power shortages since the government suspended operations of all diesel-powered power plants to cut import costs as prices soared. Diesel-powered power plants produced about 6 percent of Bangladesh’s power generation, so their closures reduced output by as much as 1,500 megawatts.

Earlier this month, Faruque Hassan, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said the situation is so dire that garment factories are without power for four to 10 hours a day. Bangladesh is the world’s second largest garment exporter after China, earning more than 80 percent of its total foreign exchange from garment exports each year.

Last month, the Asian Development Bank said in a report that Bangladesh’s economic growth would slow to 6.6 percent from its previous forecast of 7.1 percent in the current fiscal year.

Weaker consumer spending due to sluggish export demand, domestic manufacturing constraints and other factors are behind the slowdown, it said.

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