Head of City Power
“Once you’ve chosen a field there should be only one goal – serve the people.”
My name is Abdul Malek
I am the head of City Power. I have worked for City Power for around 40 years, I started at zero as a guard, but I have always been so interested in the work that is why I have been promoted. Everyone has ambitions at school; when I chose the field of electricity I wanted to serve the people, I didn’t think that one day I would be the head of City Power.
I refused the position as head several times but finally my friends in the department persuaded me. It is good if you work in an organisation to try and perfect it. So now that is what I’m doing.
The official working hours are 8- 4 but I usually work around 16 hours a day. I stay until about 8pm and then I take the rest of my work home with me. Sometimes I get up at 4am before morning prayers and then work until it is time to go to the office.
The only time I don’t come to the office is on holidays. But even then I don’t rest, I make site visits. I am never at home. I have to work like this or you would see hundreds of people every day coming to me with their problems.
I have five sons who are doing well. Like a lot of my friends, two of them are engineers and one is studying to become a doctor. I tell them to pick a field they’re interested in and then stick at it. Once you have chosen a field there should be only one goal – to serve the people. This is what I tell them, I hope this is what they will do.
During the war Kabul lost all its structures. Nobody had power, there was just two hours in every 48. The fighting has affected people badly, financially and through losing people. I don’t see how anyone living in Afghanistan has not been affected by war. I lost one of my brothers when he was 24. Now though, there have been changes in the city. Whether it’s the buildings or roads, electricity or education, there have been many positive changes here.
One of my best memories was when we activated Chamtala substation – Afghanistan’s biggest. We bought power from Uzbekistan and brought light to new areas in Kabul. We have to provide a lot of electricity because so many people want to live in Kabul. So we have to keep making the network better. We hope to build two dams and more power plants, to produce our own power instead of importing it. Now there is maybe a one-hour power cut in 48 hours. About 70% of people have power. Of course we have problems when a substation shuts down or there are issues with the wires, but this is mostly in winter.
It is important that everyone pays their electricity bills. If they don’t pay then we can’t pay for the power, the power will be cut and the city will be dark. The billing system is new here, and we try to enforce it. Most people who don’t use a lot of power pay on time, but those who do are a lot slower.
When I first came to Kabul I shared a room with friends. It was holiday time and they were all going away to celebrate. I told them I would stay here and have my own celebration. They laughed and said ‘Right, the whole power would go down if weren’t here.’ I never forgot that.
If I have enough energy I will work until I’m 65 and then retire. If you work as much as I do you are so so tired, so it is necessary to rest for at least a few years.