Protesters in Sudan’s Northern State continued to block the highway that connects Egypt and Sudan yesterday for the fifth consecutive day in protest against the increase in electricity prices, despite the government’s announcement that electricity prices would be frozen.
The closure of the highway applies to all lorries loaded with goods coming from and heading to Egypt, with the exception of ambulances, emergency cases, and travel buses.
Sources reported to Radio Dabanga that hundreds of lorries loaded with goods are accumulating at the three points where the highway is blocked while the farmers say they plan an escalation of the protests and an increase of their demands.
Farmers told Radio Dabanga that the increase in electricity prices affects agriculture in Nile River state and Northern State.
They warned authorities of the failure of the current agricultural season if they did not cancel these increases, especially the upcoming wheat harvest, which they said needs to be irrigated before it fails.
The protesters now threaten to hinder government transactions in the localities of El Golid, Ed Debba, and Merowe, and stop the ferries between Argeen and Dongola if the decision to increase the electricity prices is not cancelled before next Sunday. They said they will also stop the electrical supply line from the Merowe Dam to Khartoum.
Protesters at the blocking point in El Golid told Radio Dabanga on Thursday that the demands were expanded to include urgent short-term and long-term demands.
Short-term demands include the cancellation of the entire decision to increase electricity prices and the implementation of the Northern Sudan Track protocol of the Juba Peace Agreement, while long-term demands include granting the northern region two per cent of the electricity of the Merowe Dam and other forms of development support.
The unequal access to electricity from the Merowe Dam in Northern State has been a controversial issue for years and many demonstrations have taken place to demand 2 per cent of its electricity, an investigation into the 2006 killing, compensation for damage caused by the dam’s construction, and an investigation into corruption surrounding the dam.
Over 50,000 people were displaced when the dam was built.
Leader of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Finance Minister Jibril Ibrahim apologised for describing the protests in Northern State as “a lot of noise/din” explaining that he meant to say that it is a ‘strong protest’.
And he added in a post on Twitter that he was sorry for “this slip of the tongue”.
He said that the partial lifting of electricity subsidies was not intended for a specific region and added that the agriculture in Khartoum state consumes more electricity than the Northern State.
Protesters in Northern State chanted slogans denouncing his statements.