Quito: Ecuador was plunged into a nationwide blackout on Wednesday. Around 3.15pm, the majority of Ecuadorians found themselves without power. By evening, the sound of cars honking and drivers shouting filled the streets of Quito and the port city of Guayaquil as traffic lights stopped working and vehicles overwhelmed the cities’ streets. The public transit systems and some water supply companies suspended services in both major cities.The mayor of Quito expressed surprise on X that the blackout had affected the city’s subway system, which uses an “isolated” power source.
The the country’s public works minister, Roberto Luque, said on X that he had received a report from the national electricity operator, CENACE, about “a failure in the transmission line that caused a cascade disconnection, so there is no energy service nationwide.” Within hours, power had begun to return to some parts of Quito, the capital.
The South American nation of 18 million people has been struggling with an energy crisis for several years. Failing infrastructure, a lack of maintenance and a dependence on imported energy have all contributed to rolling blackouts. Most of the country’s energy comes from neighbouring Colombia, a nation that has struggled to generate enough power for its own domestic consumption. A $2.25bn Chinese-built hydroelectric power plant was supposed to help. The project has instead become a headache. There have been several construction errors leading to a dispute between officials and the China firm.