Some residents in Phnom Penh’s designated Red Zones on May 1 urged state-run Electricite du Cambodge (EDC) to find ways to assist with electricity bills, as restrictions make it difficult to travel to work and earn an income.
The request came after EDC asked residents to find ways to settle their bills.
A red zone resident in Meanchey district, who requested anonymity, told The Post on May 1 that it was easy to pay bills through bank transfers. But the problem is they are not working and do not have any income to settle it.
“We cannot do business and electricity costs increase in the hot season. There seems to be no assistance from the EDC. In the past, I have seen an exemption for electricity [bills] … this time there is no exemption. So, we must pay as usual,” said a man employed by a private company.
With no income and having a lot of other expenses, residents asked EDC to come up with an option for payment.
"When people are not earning money, the state should help. If not an exemption for a few months, there could be a discount or delayed payments," he said.
Another resident in a blockade area in Russey Keo district’s Tuol Sangke commune said he had never paid his electricity bill via electronic transfer. His house is next to EDC, but he cannot go outside to pay the bill.
"I have not received the electricity bill [for April] yet. I do not know how to pay it, and I think it is difficult because we are barred from going outside in a red zone," he said.
In his call for consumers to pay, EDC director-general Keo Rattanak explained that Cambodia also buys electricity from domestic and foreign suppliers, which require timely payment, otherwise supplies will be cut off and fines imposed, causing even more problems.
"The money that we use to build power lines comes from the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, JICA, France, Germany, and Korea – those repayments can’t be delayed.
“People everywhere, not only in lockdown areas, complain that they cannot work because of Covid-19. I understand the problem, but the government has a separate mechanism under the leadership of chairman of the lockdown committee, [Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth. The committee works with authorities to determine who needs assistance,” he said.
According to Ratanak, during a meeting with the lockdown committee, EDC officials were told to ensure a sustainable supply of electricity. Therefore, people need to pay for electricity.
"We have not cut off electricity to poor people yet. We are always patient to give you a chance. At the same time, the general public … should pay because we need to generate incomes to pay suppliers, for electrical equipment as well as interest payments,” he said.
Rattanak said EDC was still operating normally during the government's lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Takhmao town in Kandal province.
“In order to maintain stable supply and to enable EDC to pay suppliers, EDC asks all customers to try to pay for electricity through bank payment systems and other microfinance institutions,” he said.
The notice also states that for large-scale users which need to pay by bank check, EDC has set up a working group to facilitate payments for customers in the lockdown areas by simply contacting them during working hours using the phone number on the bill.
In addition, all residents can transfer to the EDC bank account and copy confirmation of payment documents to 012 685 789 via social network WhatsApp or Telegram.