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'Tolerance' of blackouts urged

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Rolling blackouts that have engulfed Phnom Penh over recent weeks are here to stay and will likely intensify, an official from the state-owned Electricity du Cambodge said yesterday.

Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post
A serviceman repairs electrical lines in Phnom Penh earlier this month.

During hot-weather months, Phnom Penh requires upward of 400 megawatts of electricity per day, a demand that increases by 15 to 20 per cent every year, the official, who did not wish to be named, said.

“Now, we need about 350 megawatts per day, and we have less than that, but I can predict that next month, which is hotter than this month, the demand will increase to 380 or 400 megawatts per day, which we still lack power to supply to all households,” the official said, adding that the city has about 290 megawatts available each day, with nearly half of that coming from Vietnam.

Electricity du Cambodge is telling Phnom Penh residents to “be tolerant” during the power outages.

The electricity provider has split the city into two groups and is alternating power outages between night and day for the two groups in a bid to minimize the effects, the official told the Post yesterday.

However, for Phnom Penh residents, the power outages are far more burdensome than a few hours without lights.

Pho Kim An, a 63-year-old duck-egg seller in Chamka Morn district’s Beouk Keng Kang 3 commune, said yesterday that she has been without electricity for at least three periods of about three hours a day since the start of February.

“It is really bad and difficult to sleep, especially for my granddaughter and  especially at night when the electricity is cut.

It was not often cut in January, but three times per day from February,” she said, adding her family regularly has to leave their house while the power was cut, and could only return once it was restored.

Press and Quick Reaction Unit spokesman Ek Tha said the severity of the situation is being overstated.

“Electricity fluctuations are just minor problems. The government has invested in this situation, and it has improved,” Ek Tha said.

Representatives from Phnom Penh City Hall could not be reached yesterday.

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