With 66 Percent of Buses Out of Service, Havana Residents Are Also Facing Water and Power Shutoffs at Start of Vacation Season

Only 34% of Havana’s 894 public buses are working due to lack of maintenance. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 6 July 2023 — With the start of the vacation season at hand, 66% of Havana’s buses are out of service according to a statement made on Tuesday by José Conesa González, coordinator of Industry and Transport. The crisis has been made worse by other problems that the city’s families have been experiencing for months, including shutoffs to the  water supply and delayed delivers of basic rationed goods that date back to May.

At a meeting of the Temporary Working Group in Havana on July 4, at which the performance of various municipal services was reviewed, each official presented data that painted a desolate picture for Cuban families.

In statements made to the government-run newspaper Tribuna de la Habana, Conesa González said that only 294 (just 34%) of the 894 Provincial Transport Company’s buses were operational. Despite the discouraging figures, he took pains to point out that the situation is expected to improve once six schoolbuses go back into service during the first half of July.

Playa de Este will get thirty school buses and also will resume public bus service. He added that public transport to the seaside community of Regla will remain suspended until August, when the route will rely on only four vehicles.

Conesa González also provided an assessment of the electrical service conditions in Havana, pointing out that 200 transformers that serve residential customers are damaged due to “excess consumption.” This is not the first time that provincial officials have used this excuse to justify the electricity shortage. In late June they indicated that the daily demand had exceeded 25% of what was anticipated and “demand is more than what the electrical system can handle.”

In the city’s poorest neighborhoods as well as in Miramar, where many foreign embassies are located, the water supply will continue to be a headache for residents. César Hernández Carrazana, coordinator of Construction Programs and Objectives, explained that 87,214 people are still without service. He assured residents that his agency is working to repair the pumps needed to reestablish connections in the most critical areas. He acknowledged, however, that a large part of the operation depends on new equipment which must be imported.

Twenty-three pumps have been ordered but the first twelve will not arrive until July 31 and the remainder will arrive not until the end of August. The water shortage is also affecting other provinces. Last week demonstrators in Guatemala, a neighborhood in the town of Mayarí (in Holguín province) demanded the restoration of service after three months of shortages and instability.

To calm public discontent, officials announced they were planning to install “easy access points” such as water tanks in critical areas. In the coming days one will be installed in Eastern Havana’s Villa Panamericana for use by those living multi-family buildings.

Additionally, sixty-two tanker cars will provide water to the families in Old Havana, Revolution Plaza, Central Havana, La Lisa, Playa and Marianao. These will not, however, meet all the needs of the population according to Leonel Díaz Hernández, director of Aguas de La Habana (Havana Waters), who also warned that those attempting to profit from service will be prosecuted.

The city’s residents are also waiting for the government to fulfill its May quota of rationed goods. Julio Martínez Brito, the official in charge of food distribution for the province, said that this month’s supply of cooking oil is being acquired at a rate of fifty tons a day and promised that delivery of July’s one-pound allotment of sugar will be completed this week.

Orestes Llanes Mestre, coordinator for Inspection, Control and Hygiene, also warned that those who engage in “civil disobedience and illegal actions” will be dealt with harshly.


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