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No utility service cut-offs during lockdown for non-payment of bills

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Electricity boxes in Phnom Penh's residences. Hean Rangsey

No utility service cut-offs during lockdown for non-payment of bills

Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) and Electricity of Cambodia (EDC) said they will not cut off the water and electricity or impose fines on Phnom Penh and Takmao town customers who fail to pay their bills during the lockdown period.

The capital and Kandal provincial town Takmao have been in lockdown since Khmer New Year and are scheduled to last until at least April 28, with an extension of the lockdown period a possibility if the number of daily Covid-19 infections remains high.

All unnecessary businesses are closed and people are banned from leaving their residences with only a few exceptions.

PPWSA director-general Sim Sitha told The Post on April 21 that the PPWSA understands their customer’s difficulties during this period and that everyone in the locked down areas will still have water to use as usual until further notice.

“In this situation, we have to join with the government and continue to supply enough water to our people in the capital. Whether they pay their bill or not, we will keep the water running for now. Our management board has decided that we will not impose fines on them either,” he said.

EDC director-general Keo Ratanak expressed a similar commitment. But he appealed to those who can afford it to pay their bills on time via online platforms because EDC has to buy the electricity from neighbouring countries to meet domestic demands.

“We won’t impose fines if they are late with payment. But we urge our customers to do their best to pay, no matter if it’s a small or large amount of money. We need to pay our bills too because we must buy the electricity from others.

“Our workers will go down and solve any problems [customers] have, even in the Red Zone,” Ratanak said.

The government recently announced that families that have members test positive for Covid-19 will be exempted from electricity payments for two months.

But Ratanak said they actually do have to pay the bill and then the government, through the Ministry of Economy and Finance, will provide financial assistance to them later, according to the announcement.

Kann Nika, a resident in Tuol Kork district's Boeung Kak I commune, applauded the two utilities for their understanding regarding the ability to pay the bills by customers who are locked down.

“This also helps by freeing up some money for other things for the families whose incomes have been affected. In the past, if anyone was late to pay their bill, their clean water and electricity would be cut off. But those who have enough money should continue to pay,” she said.

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