Afghan capital in blackout after Taliban ‘forgets to pay for gas and electric’

The Afghan capital Kabul is in blackout after the Taliban failed to pay for gas and electricity, local reports have said.

Afghanistan imports all its electricity from neighbouring countries Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, the Sputnik news agency reported.

Yet only one-third of the central Asian country is able to access electricity, according to state energy agency DABS.

Local reports suggested the Taliban took over the debt-ridden state energy group as soon as they arrived in Kabul this summer.

Yet they appear to have ignored the cash owed to suppliers in the neighbouring countries, leading Uzbek suppliers to shut the power off to vast swathes of the country.

The state energy agency wrote simply: "The technical staff is working to resolve this issue as soon as possible."

It's estimated DABS owes $62 million (£45 million) in electricity bills to its local suppliers.

There are plans to slowly pay off the debt to keep the lights on in Kabul and Afghanistan's other cities, but energy suppliers appear to have flicked the switch without warning.

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The impacts of the blackout are more than just cosmetic, however.

Ex-DABS chief Daud Noorzai quit just two weeks after the Taliban takeover on August 15.

He told the Wall Street Journal there could be a humanitarian crisis if Afghanistan is unable to provide electricity to hospitals and essential public transport networks.

Mr Noorzai said: "There will be blackout and it would bring Afghanistan back to the Dark Ages when it comes to power and to telecommunications."

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EU diplomat Josep Borrell said over the weekend that Afghanistan faces a "serious humanitarian crisis and a socio-economic collapse is looming".

Neighbouring Tajikstan, which helps provide Afghanistan with electricity, is an opponent of Taliban rule and briefly sheltered ousted ex-leader Ashraf Ghani.

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