AFTER 38 years of living in darkness, villagers in Koh Khel commune, Sa Ang district, Kandal province, are finally being connected to electricity, albeit for a price.
The Anco Brothers Ltd won the 10-year licence from Electricite du Cambodge (EDC) to supply Koh Thom and Sa Ang districts of Kandal province with electricity in February 2005.
"Anco Brothers have been installing transmission lines between Chrey Thom district, which is on the border with Vietnam, and the Sa Ang district for a few years now," said Yim Viseth, an official at the electricity regulation department of the Electricity Authority of Cambodia (EAC).
But Chhoeung Morn, a member of the Koh Khel commune council, said villagers in the Koh Khel commune have to pay bribes of up to US$30 to have their home connected to the grid, in addition to the standard 565,000 or 260,000 riel connection fee.
"It isn't surprising that the suppliers have taken this opportunity to earn extra money. Villagers here used to pay 5,000 riel per kWh to use private generators, but now they will have cheaper electricity at 650 riel per kWh," Morn said. "The villagers need this electricity as much as they need food."
Ith Praing, secretary of state at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, said that only 17 percent of the population of Cambodia and 85 percent of residences in Phnom Penh are currently supplied with electricity. "The government plans that by 2030 at least 70 percent of all households will have power."