Heavy Rain Disrupts City’s Electrical Service

The heaviest rainfall this year knocked out electric power several times in areas of Phnom Penh on Saturday evening, officials said. 

And a utility official warned that the situation might repeat itself un­til a new underground cable sys­tem is completed next year.

Non Sokhon, deputy director of distribution for the government-owned Electricite du Cam­bodge, said Sunday the old electric cables are prone to short-circuiting during heavy rains such as those experienced Saturday.

“We have to face the electrical problem for almost one more year until the new underground electric cable is put into operation at the beginning of next year,” he said. The new system is under construction.

Companies, especially garment manufacturers, have griped about the unreliability of Phnom Penh’s electrical system, parts of which date back more than 50 years. In late April, when heavy rain and winds knocked out power, Elec­tricite du Cambodge was inundated with complaints.

Much of the underground electrical cable affected Saturday connects the city to factories in the outskirts of the city. Non Sokhon said Sunday morning utility officials were working to fix the da­maged cables to bring those outlying areas up to normal power.

Seth Vannareth, deputy director of Cambodia’s meteorology department, said Saturday’s rainfall was the biggest of the year, though figures weren’t available.

Saturday’s downpour sent shopkeepers scurrying to protect their wares and pedestrians running for cover as rain flooded streets. On Sunday morning, homes and businesses re­mained flooded and owners could be seen assessing the damage.

The electrical reconstruction project was announced in the spring of 1996. As reported then, it was to include laying more than 860 km of new medium- and low-voltage cable. The project is funded by the World Bank and the Asian Devel­opment Bank.

(Addi­tional reporting by Jeff Smith)

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