Company Ordered To Stop Cutting Electricty e

Phnom Penh municipality on Thurs­­day ordered Electricite du Cam­bodge to stop cutting power from houses and businesses that re­fuse to pay their trash-collection bills to private garbage company Cin­­tri.

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Pa Socheatavong said EdC must now get permission from the mu­nicipality before cutting power.

“We have received many complaints from Phnom Penh residents,” he said. “I want to tell the public that the municipality is work­ing hard to resolve the matter.”

Acting on a Council of Minis­ters proposal, the municipality in late 2003 began allowing Cintri to list its fees on EdC bills.

The threat of power cuts was seen as an ef­fective way to boost the trash com­pany’s flagging revenue stream.

But Phnom Penh residents say the trash company has since used that threat to raise prices to out­rageous levels.

“Cintri has been using EdC for years to pressure Phnom Penh residents,” said Sao Meach, who owns a small restaurant in the city. “If we refuse, they leave us in the dark.”

He also claimed that without notice Cintri increased his trash collection fees from $10 a month to $25 a month on his last bill.

Other Phnom Penh residents have voiced similar complaints.

“They try to extort money from us by using EdC to threaten us,” said Phnom Penh resident Prak Thea, claiming that his trash bill last month increased from $0.80 to $5.

“They know we can’t live without electricity,” he said.

Phall Kunn, customer relations manager at Cintri, denied the fees were arbitrary, insisting they were instead based on one of the 100 different set rates for homes and businesses.

“The fees do not fluctuate arbitrarily,” he said. “The fluctuation depends on the site of the home and the scale of the business.”

Officials from EdC could not be reached for comment.

Pa Socheatavong said the mu­nicipality could not stop Cintri from listing its collection fees on EdC bills because the policy was implemented at the behest of the Council of Ministers.

The answer, he said, was transparency in billing.

“We will talk with the company about making collection fees more transparent,” he said. “If they are too expensive, it will make people angry.”

Phall Kunn said he was not aware of any upcoming meetings with the municipality.


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