Myawaddy Residents Protest Electricity Price Hikes

Angered over recent electricity price increases and frequent blackouts, over 200 people staged a protest on May 1 in Myawaddy township, Kayin State.

Protesters complained that the recent change in power distributors was not handled transparently, and said the new arrangement is not beneficial to the public.

“In the past, we only had to pay 4.30 baht [per kWh] for the electricity. Now, the company has raised the bill to at least 6 baht [per unit] based on the industry. The public is not satisfied,” said Ko Thant Zin, who helped organize the protest and applied for permission to stage the demonstration.

By comparison electricity per kWh in Philippines costs 6.67 baht, but in Thailand costs about 3.74 baht.

The protesters gathered at Migyaungkone Monastery in Ward 4 before marching downtown. They shouted slogans and held vinyl signs calling for full voltage, removal of the state Electricity Minister for failing to meet public expectations and lowering the electricity charges to 4.20 baht per unit. They also demanded the government establish a local electricity committee that will include representatives of the local residents.

NGL Company was previously responsible for buying electricity from Thailand and distributing it throughout Myawaddy, but Shwe Myit Thaung Yin Company took over after complaints of frequent blackouts. The new company raised the prices in March.

“In my opinion, the state government should be held responsible. The people are protesting because there are more blackouts and the power bill has been raised after the government gave the green light to the new company,” said a local elder from Myawaddy. “If the government truly represents the best interests of the public it should listen to the public and respond to the public’s needs.”

The protest leaders said another demonstration will be held next week if local authorities and company officials do not respond soon with an offer to negotiate.

Translated by Thida Linn
Edited by Laignee Barron

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