Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Power-full thieves

Power-full thieves

Power-full thieves

Did Confucious say "Many hands make light work? If so, he may have had Cambodia

in mind. Many hands, it seems, are involved in keeping the light bulbs of Cambodia

burning. Many people from the salubrious offices of the World Bank, ADB, and various

international donors down to the more modest accommodation of the people in the country

making the last link to houses, shops, and factories. Yes, the "rural electrification"

project is important. Electric power is a vital pre-requisite to communications and

many micro-enterprise schemes, so it should play a vital role in "poverty alleviation"

plans.

But then, there are dangers. The "powers-that-be" could make "light

work" of lining their own pockets by keeping the power in their own hands. Here

is an actual case in point. In my area, one of the new sub-stations is "privatized",

so the private owner is free to re-sell the electricity at whatever price he determines.

The price varies but for some local people it is 900 riels per unit whereas the official

price is 350. But no matter who you talk to and despite the official letters, the

answer is the same "there's nothing we can do - just pay up!"

If only that was the end of the matter, but it isn't. I could not understand how

my little fridge, TV, and fans that had regularly consumed 25 units per month in

two different houses for two years in Phnom Penh could suddenly increase fourfold,

to 120 or more, now that I live outside the capital. So I went in search of the meter,

and discovered that our supply has been privatized once more. The "private"

owner has re-sold our custom to someone else. This explains why our unit charge is

1,500 riel per unit. And once the meter was located at the new owner's house, the

mystery about the extra consumption was apparent - extra cables and connections to

supply more "customers" through our meter! But.... "There's nothing

we can do!"

I just hope that as the electrification project gets under way, serious attempts

will be made to introduce proper regulation and consumer protection.

MOST VIEWED

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman

  • Cambodian women diving deep, going far

    There is a saying in Khmer that “women cannot dive deep or go far”. The meaning is that women should not stray too far from their traditional gender roles. But when Menno de Block, an entrepreneur from the Netherlands, took a good look around his