Villagers Blame Utility for Frequent Blackouts

Villagers in three districts on the outskirts of Phnom Penh say their power has been cut for several hours almost daily for the last month.

The blackouts, in Russei Keo, Dangkao and Meanchey districts, usually occur in early evening and can last until midnight, several commune chiefs said Thursday. Villagers complain that they need the power even more now that Khmer New Year is approaching.

“There is a blackout almost every evening,” said Soth Sath, chief of Choam Chao commune in Dangkao district. “People need the light to celebrate the New Year.”

Officials at Electricite du Cam­bodge, which supplies power to the district, blamed the outages on increased consumption caused by the hot weather as well as de­creased supply. Some pow­er is normally provided by a hy­droelectric plant in Kirirom, but the lack of rain means there is not enough water flowing to generate electricity, said Chea Sun Hel, EdC distributing director. As a result, all power is provided by generators, he added.

EdC has only 100 megawatts of power supplying Phnom Penh city, but demand is at 110 mega­watts, he said. “The consumption is really much more than the pow­er,” he said. “So our last choice is to cut power in the outskirts.”

Villagers, however, alleged Thursday that the EdC is slowing the generators to steal petroleum to sell for money to celebrate the New Year.

“It is a tradition for the EdC to cut power without giving a reason,” said Ung Song Hour, 35, of Boeung Chhouk village in Russei Keo district. “I don’t believe the generators are broken.”

Chun Sun Hel denied the allegation. “Nobody would dare to do that,” he said. “To this day, no­body can steal petroleum anymore.”

About 16,000 families live in Dangkao district, and most have no access to electricity or live with frequent outages, said district Governor Kroch Phan.

More than 30,000 families live in Russei Keo, said Governor Touch Sarun.


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