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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Blackouts leading to reduced production

Blackouts leading to reduced production

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Men on wire: Workers fix a line at Pum Peam village in Muk Kampoul district, Kandal. Unreliable supply is harming growth potential. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post

Frequent power outages in Phnom Penh, a result of a shortage of supply and overuse by consumers, is harming the competitiveness of Cambodian products, industry insiders said yesterday.

In addition to the challenges of expensive electricity prices, an ongoing issue for production costs, unreliable supply during the hot season is harming the potential for growth.

Song Saran, CEO and president of Amru Rice Cambodia, a major rice exporter in the Kingdom, said the electricity black-outs his company faces every day is affecting production and operations. Since the beginning of the month electricity has been cut off for at least two hours per day, he added.

“Now we are not only facing the challenges of the high costs of electricity, but also the unreliable power supply,” said Song Saran, “I am very concerned and try to find any other solution possible to supply electricity to meet buyers’ deadlines. If we request a delay to the shipping deadline, we will lose our market competitiveness.”

Writing a letter to the editor of the Phnom Penh Post on February 27, Nut Chhoeum, personal adviser to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, said many people in many areas are being inconvenienced by blackouts, which occur twice a day on average.

“In some areas like Choam Choav, other than the villa of high-ranking government officers, ordinary citizens need to spend money on a machine to generate power as well as on gasoline,” Chhoeum said in the letter.

Ly Tek Heng, operation manager of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, said the issue of unreliable power supply has already been a concern for his organisation for years.

He added that the situation is usually worse in the hot season, from February until April, due to higher demand.

“It has gradually improved compared to previous years, but there is still room for development,” Tek Heng told the Post yesterday. “From what I learn from the media and the promise from relevant stakeholders, I just hope the situation will be better from 2015,” he added, alluding to the year of the integration of the ASEAN Economic Community.

Ty Thany, executive director of the Electricity Authority of Cambodia (EAC), agrees that the shortage of electricity in Phnom Penh is becoming a serious issue during this hot season.

“The demand is high, much higher than our expectation,” Thany of EAC told the Post yesterday, “The increasing number of houses, apartments, and commercial buildings are the major reason for a boost of electricity demand.”

Due to unreliable power supply, Keo Mom, director of LyLy food industry, a Cambodian snack producing company, told the Post that the only way to minimise losses is by equipping bio-gas machine to generate power.

Keo Mom added that in order to operate the bio-gas machine, her company spends $21 to buy three metres of wood cubes per day, which is 50 per cent lower compared to electricity.

Ty Thany said that electricity supply will be getting better from April due to the power generated from Kirirom III and Kamchay hydropower dams.

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