Uzbekistan’s president said Monday he dismissed senior officials, including the mayor of the capital Tashkent, over gas and energy shortages amid historically cold temperatures in the Central Asian country.
The landlocked ex-Soviet country with a population of 35 million people saw the temperatures in Tashkent plunge to just above -20 degrees Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit) this winter.
According to the country’s meteorological service, the temperature in Tashkent last Friday dipped to -19.8 degrees Celsius, the lowest in 50 years.
The cold temperatures have worsened the country’s energy deficit.
President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said he fired the Tashkent mayor for his “lack of preparation for the winter season” and “his empty words, his false reports”.
Mirziyoyev also dismissed a deputy energy minister, the chairman of a company controlling Uzbekistan’s thermal power plants and the heads of several Tashkent districts.
In a video released by his office, the president accused the officials of failing to tackle “corruption” in the energy sector, saying the equivalent of 20 percent of the country’s annual gas consumption had not been delivered as planned to consumers.
Uzbekistan is rich in natural resources, especially natural gas, but has suspended its gas exports to make up for energy deficits.
Like its neighbours in Central Asia, such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan suffers frequent power and heating cuts due to ageing infrastructure.
Monday’s dismissals came on the heels of the recent arrests of several executives of Uzbek energy companies over “illegal activities” concerning gas and electricity supplies.
Mirziyoyev came to power in 2016 after the death of his autocratic predecessor, Islam Karimov.
He has pushed through significant economic and social reforms, but his regime is accused by aid organisations of trampling on people’s basic rights.
Source : Macau Business