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Villagers threaten to continue protests against electricity rates

Villagers threaten to continue protests against electricity rates

MORE THAN 300 Kandal province villagers, involved in a pricing dispute with their local electricty supplier, said they will have no choice but to protest in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house in Phnom Penh after failing to secure their demands at a Friday meeting with the district governor and officials from the Electricity Authority of Cambodia (EAC).

Kandal Stung district authorities called the three-way meeting following a February 4 incident in which 200 villagers from two communes in the
district tried to stage a protest in front of Kandal provincial headquarters but were soon turned away by police.

Representatives of the local power provider, the Chhay Neng Company, were not included in the meeting.

“We stated firmly that we did not intend to pay our electric bills until the price was reduced from 1,700 riels (US$0.40) per kilowatt-hour to 1,100
riels,” said villagers’ representative Yev Sophat.

“Unless the authorities resolve this matter fairly, we will go on to protest in front of the prime minister’s house,” he said.

Yev Sophat said the villagers came to the meeting with three demands: the reduction in price, the right to pay outstanding bills at the new lower price and the replacement of a 5-ampere current with a 10-ampere current.

The only concession given to villagers on Friday was the change in amperage, he said.

Choie Sobin, Kandal Stung district governor, said the EAC had not reached a final decision on the issue and was still deliberating.

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