Blackouts Hurting Businesses in Siem Reap

Business has slowed, restaurant pa­trons have dined by candlelight and locals have been sweating without their fans in Siem Reap province, where technical problems have meant periodic blackouts over the last 10 days.

Residents and businessmen complained Tuesday that the economy and living conditions are suffering be­­cause of the blackouts, which have been unpredictable but often strike in the evening, locals said.

“Some clients said it was OK to eat dinner under the light of candles, but others have left my restaurant,” said a 46-year-old Siem Reap restaurateur who identified himself as Sopheara, and who did not want his restaurant named.

“I have lost profit due to the lack of clients. They complain that they can’t access the Internet after the pow­er goes out.”

He added that if the blackouts get worse, his business could be in serious trouble.

Chum Soputhy, an administrator at the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center, said that her work had been slowed by daytime blackouts.

“It is good that they normally cut the electricity at night, but it has hampered my work when they cut it during the day,” she said.

Electricite du Cambodge Siem Reap provincial Director Cheam Ko­sem said that power would be re­turned to normal in about three weeks when technicians finish overhauling a generator.

An extra generator was brought in from Phnom Penh in early Sep­tem­ber to allow the overhaul of the three Siem Reap generators, but one broke down while another was being repaired, leaving them 40 to 50 percent below capacity, he said.

The borrowed machine is so inefficient that it costs 23 cents to produce every kilowatt hour, which is sold for 19 cents, so the company is losing money every day, Cheam Kosem added.

“We have to keep lighting our tourism town,” he said. “Today we cut here, tomorrow we black out some­where else.”

 

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