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Outrage over water prices

More than 1,000 villagers in Prey Veng province’s Prey Veng town blocked traffic on national road 11 outside the office of the Cambodian People’s Party yesterday to demand the price of water be lowered from 1,800 riels per cubic metre to 1,200 riels.

The protesters, who included government officials, blocked the road from Neak Loeung port to Prey Veng provincial town from 7am.

They waved banners and shouted through loudspeakers in protest against a price hike from Touch Kim Water Supply Company, the province’s supplier of fresh water.

Chin Sina, 35, a protester who occupied the road, said the company had a duty to produce and supply affordable fresh water to more than 2,000 families in the town, but had increased its price to 1,800 riels per cubic metre, which villagers could not afford.

“We urged authorities to intervene and make the company reduce its price to 1,200 riels per cube – the same as the state water supply last year,” she said.

Fellow protester Kuy Sophannarith, 43, said provincial governor Ung Samy signed a letter last month shutting down the state water system without the consent of the villagers.

Water supply had since been outsourced to a private company and villagers were paying the price, he said.

“Water is life, but we don’t have the ability to pay this high price,” he said.

“We have gathered here to demand Prime Minister Hun Sen ask the company to reduce the price,” he said.

Ung Samy, Prey Veng provincial governor, said his deputy governor had negotiated with the protesters.

“We coordinated with them to stop protesting, because we are preparing a report that will be sent to higher government officials, but they have to wait for a result,” Ung Samy said.

Chan Narith, Prey Veng town police chief, said villagers had rejected this offer and demanded a resolution.

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