Large swaths of Bangladesh have been left without electricity after a grid failure, a government official said, adding that authorities were working to gradually restore the power supply in the country of 168 million people.
Bangladesh’s power grid malfunctioned at around 2pm (08:00 GMT) on Tuesday, leading to blackouts across 75-80 percent of the country, Bangladesh Power Development Board official Shameem Hasan told the Reuters news agency.
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An investigation was under way to ascertain the reason for the grid’s collapse and power had been restored in 45 percent of the regions hit by the blackouts, he said. By nightfall, it was still not clear when power would be fully restored.
Officials of the state-run Bangladesh Power Development Board said power transmission failed somewhere in the eastern part of the country.
All power plants tripped and electricity was cut in the capital Dhaka and other big cities, said Hasan.
Bangladesh’s recent impressive economic growth has been threatened by power shortages since the government suspended operations of all diesel-run power plants to reduce the cost of imports as prices have soared.
The diesel-run power plants produced about 6 percent of Bangladesh’s power generation, so their shutdowns cut output by up to 1,500 megawatts.
Earlier this month, Faruque Hassan, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said that the situation is so serious that garment factories are without power now for four to 10 hours a day.
Bangladesh is the world’s second-largest garment exporter after China, and it earns more than 80 percent of its total foreign currency from these exports each year.
Last month, the Asian Development Bank said in a report that Bangladesh’s economic growth would slow to 6.6 percent from its previous forecast of 7.1percent in the current fiscal year.
Weaker consumer spending due to sluggish export demand, domestic manufacturing constraints and other factors are behind the slowdown, it said.