12/01/2004

Back in Baghdad: Less violence, less electricity, more cold weather, less phones

Back to Iraq 3.0: Back in Baghdad: "For the average citizen of Baghdad, however, things are not great. Queues for petrol are hundreds of cars long — up to five or six kilometers in some places. The wait is hours long because of the cold weather that is settling in, made all the worse by a worsening electricity situation.

In October, when I left, most people I spoke with said it was up to a four-hours-on, two-hours-off schedule. Now we’re back to one- or two-hours-on, five- to six-hours off. And generators can only run for six hours or so at a time before having to sit idle for a little while. It’s unclear why the electricity is so bad after it seemed to be improving for a while. The electrical heaters that more people are running use more juice than air conditioning, so perhaps that’s the reason.

The mobile network is collapsing, too, but everyone knows the reason for that: Insurgents are targeting the transmitters. Half the time, the phones don’t work at all, forcing us to rely on our satellite phones. Of course, the average Iraqi doesn’t have one of these, so they get an unreliable landline or nothing."

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