Enemalta has blamed record demand and increased pressure on the network for the power cuts that have seen residents in Għargħur, Żebbuġ, Naxxar and other localities spend hours without electricity in the sweltering heat.

A spokesperson for the energy provider said it had experienced record demand over the last few days.

“As economic activity related to the summer months and temperatures rise, the demand by consumers rose as well,” he told Times of Malta.

“In the majority of cases reported in the media, the fault developed due to increased pressures on the network distribution system, where such pressures expose faults on cables and connections.”

While a respite from the heat was expected this weekend, Malta has been experiencing temperatures in the upper 30s.

With the power cuts, complaints have poured in of people being unable to sleep without fans or air conditioning, being unable to work without internet access and of food that had to be thrown away.

Numerous residents took to Facebook groups to describe their experience.

In Birkirkara, some residents said the power cut lasted for 15 hours.

That particular outage was caused by a double fault in electric cables, Enemalta said, with the issue dragging on until Wednesday.

“The electricity went out at around 7.30pm on Thursday and it didn’t come back on until 11:30pm,” one Żebbuġ resident told Times of Malta.

“It was really an ordeal because it was so hot inside and I had to find some respite staying on the balcony in pitch darkness, which was quite strange as an experience.”

Another Żebbuġ resident spoke of the power cut lasting seven hours, from 7.30pm to 2.30am.

“I attempted to contact Enemalta multiple times and the replies I got were ‘it will be solved in 30 minutes’, then ‘two hours’ and then ‘we don’t know’,” he said.

“I work from home for a remote company and informed Enemalta that they were impacting my work and costing me money, as well as spoiling any refrigerated goods.

“It is a very ridiculous and disgusting situation and communication with the respective authorities is close to zero and essentially putting us back to the stone age.”

He said that, apart from being unable to work, he was infuriated at the lack of communication from Enemalta.

“I even escalated the issue to Minister Miriam Dalli as I was contacted by one of her agents on Friday morning and when I asked who would be liable for the money I lost and lost goods I was told to ‘take it up with Enemalta’,” he added.

When he asked what was being done to prevent such lengthy outages in the future he was given a blank response: “these things happen, faults occur all the time.”

Penka Peeva-Bayumi and Waleed Bayumi, owners of The Sixth Leaf Restaurant, San Pawl Tat-Tarġa said that a five-hour power cut on Thursday left them with a big loss.

“The power cut started at around 7pm, the worst time as that is when we are in full service with customers,” Peeva-Bayumi told Times of Malta.

“Some customers left. It was not an easy night. The cash register and credit card reader didn’t work, there was no air conditioning... no fridges. We had to throw away some food items.”

The electricity was finally restored at 11.30pm but by then the damage was done.

“We calculated that we lost roughly €1,000 that night, including the damage to the fridge, no internet service and some customers not coming,” she said.

“It’s not an easy situation for anyone to experience a power cut in summer but this is an extra burden for us, especially after the impact the pandemic has had on the industry.”

She, too, tried to reach out to Enemalta throughout the evening but with no luck.

The Enemalta spokesperson said when a fault develops, the corporation strives to address the issue in the minimal time possible.

In cases when the fault is underground, works begin to identify the location of the fault, do excavation works and proceed with the repairs. Necessary testing is followed before switching consumers back on the original feeder.

“Last year, Enemalta embarked on a six-year action plan to upgrade the distribution infrastructure and this work is ongoing,” the spokesperson said.

With regard to requests for compensation, he said there was the applicable legislation that regulates liability.

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