Prime Minister Hun Sen called on Cambodians to rise to the challenge of providing sufficient electricity to power the country Tuesday, at once thanking donors for their help and criticizing their long-term projects for failing to address immediate needs.
“We cut off the electricity in random places,” Hun Sen said of the months of blackouts that Phnom Penh residents have endured. He spoke at the Technology Institute of Cambodia.
“Certain financial institutions and foreign friends would say that these power supply projects should be put in place in this and that time when the capital is mobilized. But we need power today,” Hun Sen said.
He added that Cambodia would have to be more self-sufficient to satisfy increasing power demands until a massive project to import power from Vietnam is completed in 2008.
“We cannot live on oxygen through someone else’s nose,” Hun Sen said. “Don’t forget that we have two nostrils and one mouth, so if the nostrils are shut then we can breathe through the mouth.”
He added that although foreign donors may not fully appreciate the problem, their help would be welcome.
“They don’t come and sleep through our power cuts. They just come and go,” Hun Sen said. But, he added, “if our friends help us out, we appreciate their support.”
Three CPP senator tycoons have been given contracts to provide power coverage to the capital.
The national development planning strategy for 2006 to 2010, which was approved by the National Assembly Tuesday, also plans for cheaper electricity by the end of the decade.
Planning Minister Chhay Than referred questions about electricity supply to the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy.
Ith Praing, secretary of state at the ministry, said he hopes investors will build more hydroelectric plants because the skyrocketing cost of oil has made running fuel generators too expensive.
A hydropower plant is being built in Kampot province, as are four others in Koh Kong and Pursat provinces, which are expected to produce 800 megawatts of power on completion, Ith Praing said.