ALEPPO, Syria -- Midnight means lights out in Syria’s Aleppo: as the clock strikes 12, overworked power generators shut off across the city, plunging war-ravaged neighborhoods and heritage sites into darkness.
It will take many months and millions of dollars to breathe life back into Aleppo’s devastated water, electricity, and transportation networks.
Four years of fighting have transformed it from Syria’s industrial and commercial powerhouse to a divided and dysfunctional city.
“We sold our vacuum cleaner — what’s the point in having one if we don’t have electricity?” asked Umm Fayez, a housewife who lives in the central district of Furqan.
“It’s been two years since we used our washing machine. We wash everything by hand, but the water is too cold now and I can’t take it any more,” the mother-of-two told AFP, sitting in the dark amid piles of dirty laundry.
Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad declared full control over Syria’s second city last week, after a landmark evacuation deal ended years of clashes.
Rocket fire, air strikes and shelling partly or totally destroyed more than half of Aleppo’s infrastructure and buildings, according to a “preliminary, optimistic evaluation” by local authorities.
The main power station at Safirah to the southeast has been off line for two years because of the fighting.
Aleppo’s residents are forced to rely on noisy generators that supply electricity through a web of thick cables snaking through scarred streets.
But they are shut down at midnight to save diesel supplies.
Umm Fayez’s husband walks home every night from his sweetshop using a small torch to guide the way through pitch-black darkness.
“We have two projects that will re-establish electricity to Aleppo,” an electricity ministry official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
He said new power lines would be laid from the neighboring province of Hama within a year.