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Written by Narinjara News
Saturday, 24 September 2011 00:00

Kyauk Pru: Consumers of electricity in Kyaukpru, the second largest city in western Burma's Arakan State, are facing trouble as the Light Committee in the town is enforcing a mandatory minimum of 18 units of electricity per month. It has been 63 years since Burma became independent, but all towns including Kyaukpru in Arakan State are still lacking proper grid electricity that is being rationed from the powerful electric lines by the EPC. Instead, they have to use electricity supplied by and generated from diesel engines by the town light committees at high prices.

"The government has allowed use of 10 units of electricity at a price of 25 Kyat per unit, but the town light committee has ordered us to use at least 18 units of electricity per month, and must pay for the extra 8 units at a price of 500 Kyat per unit," said U Thandar Maung, a resident from downtown Kyaukpru.

He said that because of the new order by the committee, the consumers in the town have to pay 4,250 Kyat per month as a usage charge - 250 Kyat for the official 10 units and 4,000 Kyat for the compulsory 8 units.

"We have to pay 4,250 Kyat as the usage charge for the electricity and 1,000 Kyat in addition as the service charge for looking after the electricity meter box. So a consumer household has to pay 5,250 Kyat in total in a month," he said.

He also said that the enforcement of mandatory usage minimums by the light committee is just to extort money from consumers and it causes great trouble to residents using electricity in the town.

"If we have used 18 units or not, we consumers have to pay 5,250 Kyat per household per month according to enforcement of compulsory utilization of electricity by the light committee in our town. It is just a plan by the committee to extort [money] from us and has caused great troubles to us now, especially to the poor households in our town. Before we had to pay just between 3,000 and 4,000 Kyat per month for electricity bills, because there was no limitation on using electricity and we used it very economically," he said.

A resident from Arakan's capital Sittwe said they previously to pay 25 Kyat per unit if they did not use more than 10 units of electricity per month, but now they have to pay 440 Kyat per unit for extra usage.

"Starting from the month of August this year, we have to pay 25 Kyat per unit of electricity if we do not use more than 10 units in a month, but we have to pay 440 Kyat per unit for any additional units we might use in a month," said the resident.

It was also learned that electricity is being supplied in Kyaukpru from the generator donated by the Shwe Gas Project, but the nine member light committee has ordered the consumer households in the town to pay for a minimum of 18 units of electricity and has been profiteering in this manner since last August.

Narinjara has tried to contact U Tha Lu Chay, Minister for Electrical Power and Energy in Arakan State, via the telephone regarding the matter but has been unable to make contact.

According to people from Arakan State, electricity bills are still a burden for them amidst the economic crisis, and they have to pay an average of 500 Kyat per unit for electricity in their state, despite that households in Burma proper are charged just 28 Kyat per unit and industries are charged 50 Kyat per unit.
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