Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Protest for electricity in Dawei

More than 250 people marched for one hour in Dawei township, Tanintharyi Region, on Wednesday night to call on the regional government to end power blackouts in the city and reduce electric bills.

Local residents protest demanding the regional government to end blackouts. Su Phyo Win / The Myanmar TimesLocal residents protest demanding the regional government to end blackouts. Su Phyo Win / The Myanmar Times

The protesters shouted slogans calling for distribution of electricity to be taken away from Dawei Development Public Company (DDPC) because it had failed to take responsibility and taken over by the Ministry of Electricity and Energy. They also urged the regional government to make the production company, Global Grand Services, take responsibility and be held accountable.

Tanintharyi, on Myanmar’s southernmost tip, is notorious for high electricity bills because it is not connected to the national grid yet.

This was the first-ever protest under the new government about power supplies.

Tanintharyi residents had to pay 300 kyats per unit before July 1, but the charge has fallen to 210 kyats per unit since then.

Ma Wint War Yu, a resident Dawei township who marched in the protest, said that even 210 kyats per unit is six times higher than most other regions and states in the country, and the district still has frequent blackouts.

“I blame the regional government for failing to manage the electricity problem in the region,” she said.

Daw Lae Lae Maw, the region’s chief minister, said in an exclusive interview that she will try to lower the charge for electricity to less than 100 kyats.

U Aung Zaw Hein, executive director of DDPC, said the company is trying its best to fix the difficulties caused by dramatic growth in demand for electricity in Dawei.

“I do not blame the production company. The demand for electricity is high and the network is big, but both production and distribution face many challenges, and it takes time to meet them,” he said.

The distribution company charges 130 kyats per unit and DDPC charges 80 kyats for distribution as it needs to invest more in a bigger network.

U Aung Zaw Hein said if the residents give the DDPC more time, it can provide good service.

Ko Wai Phyo Aung, who led the protest, said the government will notice what is happening in the region and the regional government will push the companies that won electricity supply contracts to take responsibility and accountability.