People in Tuol Kork district’s Tuek L’ak Muoy commune affected by a Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority (PPWSA) clerical error are refusing to pay their water bill, claiming the government body should lower their discounted rate because of it.
Residents of the area are up in arms after the PPWSA admitted to making a large error in how they calculate how much water homes have used each month. Officials from the PPWSA estimated water usage figures instead of actually checking the meters, and when they did eventually come at the end of the year to look at the meters, they compiled the total amount that homes went over PPWSA’s estimates each month and charged customers the sum.
Households were livid when they saw water bills that were triple, sometimes quadruple, the price they had been paying each month and nearly 50 families protested in front of the PPWSA building, eventually getting them to admit their mistake earlier this week.
But despite their admission of guilt, PPWSA still expected people in the community to pay for the water they used.
Although some residents of Village 15, known as Roum Chit community, and Village 16, known as Akpiwat Thmey community, decided to pay the full bill and end the saga, some are still incensed at the PPWSA for charging them a discounted rate of 770 riel per cubic meter instead of their desired rate of 550 riel per cubic meter. The normal monthly rate is 1,270 riel per cubic meter.
Tith Seab, a resident of Village 15, said the PPWSA agreed to charge them 770 riel per cubic meter to make up for their mistake, but she is only willing to pay the bill if they discount it further to 550 riel.
“We have requested the commune office to help, and we will give them a week to work with the PPWSA. If the PPWSA refuses, we will continue to protest at City Hall and at Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house,” she said.
Choy Sarin, a resident of Village 16, said some agreed to pay the bill because the PPWSA acknowledged the mistake and discounted the price from 1,270 riel to 770 riel.
Sorn Sarun accepted the agreement as well but said that PPSWA’s staff had to actually come to their homes and measure their water usage regularly instead of estimating.
Ngin Chantrea, PPSWA’s deputy director-general, said they cannot discount the price further to 550 riel.
“The reason for the problem is because our staff did not check the meter. However, they have reasons why because some citizens put dirt over the meter or place a pile of rocks on it. Some locked their houses which means our staff was not able to record the figure,” she said.
“But now we have measured it for them and we brought back the water meters that were buried in the soil. The citizens mostly agreed, and only a few are requiring the discount to 550 riel.”
Citizens from both villages protested against the PPWSA last week and on Monday.