BEIRUT — Dozens of protesters gathered in front of the headquarters of Électricité du Liban (EDL), attempted to enter the building and then positioned themselves in front of it to block access to it on Tuesday from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m., the state-run National News Agency reported and EDL's spokesperson confirmed to L'Orient Today.
Internal security forces deployed personnel to address any potential disturbances.
According to the NNA, these protesters were expressing their discontent with the "high bills" they receive, coupled with "no improvement in service."
Some EDL employees engaged in discussions with the protesters. An EDL spokesperson reported that the protesters were primarily led by activist and lawyer Wassef Harakeh, a prominent figure of the 'thawra,' a term referring to the protest movement that emerged in the wake of Oct. 17, 2019, and whose influence has significantly waned over the four years of the country's ongoing crisis.
On his Facebook page, the lawyer shared a live video showing the protesters wandering in the courtyard of EDL's headquarters, in the shadow of the central building partially damaged by port explosion on Aug. 4, 2020, which has yet to be rehabilitated. Employees who have not been relocated to other EDL branches in Lebanon are distributed between the basements of the central building and containers arranged in the courtyard.
Already unable to provide round-the-clock electricity to all its subscribers before the crisis, EDL currently only supplies a few hours of power due to a lack of funds to purchase fuel for the power plants. In November 2022, the authorities decided to raise electricity tariffs, frozen since 1994, as part of a plan intended to increase production alongside prices. However, this plan did not work as expected, mainly due to delayed bill collections, variations in bill amounts across different regions and the Lebanese central bank's refusal to release the funds requested by the Energy Ministry, which were approved by the cabinet in January of this year, to purchase fuel.
At present, the only fuel consumed by the remaining operational EDL power plants is provided through a secretive barter agreement between Lebanon and Iraq.