Prime Minister Hun Sen appointed a new committee Tuesday to manage the conflict between landowners and Electricite du Cambodge, which plans to construct a series of electricity poles that will deliver energy from Vietnam to Phnom Penh.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of a new toll road in Preah Sihanouk Province, Hun Sen announced the appointment of Men San An, a deputy prime minister, Suy Sem, the minister for industry, mines and energy and Kep Chuktema, Phnom Penh’s municipal governor, to legislate the power supply dispute with landowners.
“His Excellency Suy Sem reported to me that the electricity from Vietnam has arrived in Takeo Province,” Hun Sen said. “It reached Takeo last night, and today we will start supplying Takeo’s citizens and making the link to Phnom Penh.”
The construction of the electricity poles is part of EDC’s plans to meet Phnom Penh’s increasing demand for energy. EDC announced earlier this month it would aim to deliver 190 megawatts of electricity from Vietnam to Phnom Penh by May 2009.
Despite the progress toward increasing the electricity supply to the capital, residents that live along the line where the electricity poles are due to be constructed are fearful of losing their land.
According to Hun Sen, Sokhom Pheakavanmony, the director of the Royal Railway of Cambodia and the owner of some of the disputed land, insisted that EDC refrain from constructing the electricity poles on his property.
“Mr Sokhom Pheakavanmony. Do you want to stay as the director, [of the Royal Railway of Cambodia] or keep your land?” the prime minister asked Tuesday.
“It [the new energy supply] is the need of the government and the people,” he added.
Ith Praing, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, said there were still 12 poles to be built between Takeo Province and Phnom Penh, adding that there were some issues regarding where the poles were going to be built.
Keo Rattanak, director of EDC declined to comment Monday when reached by telephone and Sokhom Pheakavanmony could not be reached by telephone.