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Sittwe: Consumers of electricity have been facing a burden with utility bills after the duration of power supply was increased without a decrease in the rates in western Burma's Arakan State, said local residents.

The residents said rationing of power in their town had decreased, with power for more hours each day after the government recently privatized the power generation and supply, but the cost of electricity still remains a burden for consumers who are using more electricity.

"A private company, Taw Win Htoo Linn, is now supplying electricity in our town and the company is doing so for more hours than before, but the consumers still have to face the burden of cost for using electricity because there is no reduction in cost," said a local leader from the Rakhine Nationalities Development Party in Mrauk U.

He said that the company has been collecting 450 Kyat per unit of electricity, the same rate the government had charged before.

"We, along with the town elders, have requested the chief minister of our state to reduce the electricity costs, and he has promised to reduce the cost to 400 Kyat per unit, but we are still paying 450 Kyat per unit," he said.

The electricity is now being rationed by the private company for Mrauk U for twice a day from 6 am to 3 pm and then again in the evening from 6 pm to 11 pm, although the government previously only supplied electricity from 7 pm to 10 pm each day.

A youth said the company began cutting power to homes that did not pay the scheduled charges. "The company used to cut the power line to the customers who paid less than it was charging with the reason of loss, so we are paying the company's rate of 450 Kyat per unit," he said.

Residents from the capital Sittwe also said electricity is now being supplied in their town from 6 pm to 12 pm every day by another private company known as Phoe Thee Cho, at similar rates, and the company is now preparing to supply electricity to the town for 24 hours a day.

A town elder said a meeting was held on 11 June at the hall of the State Administration Office in Sittwe concerning the 24-hour power supply in the town and it was also attended by Chief Minister U Hla Maung Tin.

He said the Phoe Thee Cho Company, which uses diesel generators for power supply, was awarded the tender to provide 24-hour power to the town as people showed a dislike for the Taw Win Htoo Linn Company that uses chaff-powered generators.

"It is pleasurable that electricity will be supplied to the town for 24 hours a day, but there are still problems and trouble for people using more electricity because it was said in the meeting that the electrical cost will be collected as before," the source said.

The cost of electricity is 450 Kyat per unit for consumers who do not use more than 15 units per month, and 550 Kyat per unit for those who use more than that. In addition, 1,000 Kyat is being charged for protecting the meter-box of a particular consumer each month.
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