“When the power needed by the customers is too important than what is available, JIRAMA has to cut it” This is the first statement that you can see on the page under the category “powercut” from JIRAMA‘s web site. This means nothing else than: “powercuts are never the fault of the JIRAMA … customers are too power foodie”
JIRAMA is a state owned company which activities are exclusively focused on the production and supply of electricity and water. Even if the sector has been liberalized and open to any investor, JIRAMA remains the most important actor within the market specifically due to its large supplying framework throughout Madagascar. Power supply has always been a big issue and also a big challenge for JIRAMA. Combination of delapidated supply framework, need increasing, deficiency offer and last but not least: bad management and money misappropriation, have always helped to dig JIRAMA’s grave deeper and deeper while Malagasy population are left in the darkness.
The situation of JIRAMA has really worsened during the transition (2009 – 2013) where the public water and power supplier was among the most regular cash cows of the transition leaders. The situation has become so unstable (long powercut everyday) that a group of young men and women, gathered under the flag of citizen action movement: WAKE UP MADAGASCAR, have decided to protest publicly against powercut.
Citizen action which is among the most popular ways of demonstration, is quite still unknown in Madagascar. WAKE UP MADAGASCAR was born on Facebook and now it gathers young and very hyper-motivated activists who still believe that this new way to protest, is the right thing to do to change Madagascar.
So they decided to make a soundless chain around Anosy lake – downtown of Antananarivo – last Saturday, to show how tired they are with JIRAMA’s powercut. As some of them said: “we are JIRAMA’s customers, we then have the right to know what is happening there”
I was astonished to see the reaction of the authorities. The head of the Analamanga region gendarmerie has warned: “Whatever you do, as long as it is a public gathering, you need to apply for an authorization before the prefet. If you don’t do so, your action will be deemed as illegal and therefore you will be arrested and bear the pertaining sanctions.” So we can do nothing in Madagascar? Citizen expression is banned … please remind me for what purpose Andry Rajoelina’s supporters have foughted.
The immediate consequence was that there were many citizens who were afraid to take part into the demonstration. Antananarivo people are afraid of clash against security forces. Antananarivo people are tired … they don’t have dreams anymore, they don’t live, they survive …
But despite such fear, some courageous activists have decided to show to the whole nation that it was still possible to express ones’ voices in a “police state” like Madagascar. All together, they stood up, they reached each and everyone’s hands and they wore their little signs in which they wrote: “Tired of powercut! JIRAMA stop the powercut! We have the right to light! …”
There was no clash even if there were more armed security forces than protesters. WAKE UP MADA, last Saturday, has won its bet: YES! Citizen action is possible in Madagascar! Thank you Guys! WAKE UP MADA rocks!