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Power outages due to too many high-rises?

Robert Mueller / Share:
An EDC technician at an electricity transmission sub-station. Power outages are now a regular occurrence in Phnom Penh. KT/Chor Sokunthea

At present Phnom Penh, and Cambodia together, is experiencing a power problem. Power outages have previously randomly occurred due to repairs, accidents, and the like. But now they are quotidian because the drought hampers the generation of enough electricity to sate the nation’s ever-growing hunger for power.

In some areas the inhabitants have a difficult time getting access to sufficient drinking water. Preah Sihanouk has seen the necessity to have fire trucks deliver fresh water to a hospital, for example. The drought has previously caused similar situations, and yet no successful remedy has been found to sate the ever-growing thirst for water.

The global climate changes we face will most certainly not ameliorate the situation but rather aggravate it. The dams built along the Mekong produce power and at the same time contribute influence the water supply.

Cambodia can do nothing to resolve these matters, neither to stop the meteorological maladies nor foreign damming – but it could dampen their effects.

Every high-rise that is built will consume electricity, especially in the drought period when the air-cons are insatiable. Every high-rise will consume immense quantities of water, especially in the bathrooms.

Would the construction of large edifices only be allowed after ascertaining the presence of sufficient power and water it would either halt their cancerous proliferation or force the improvement of power grids and waterworks – perhaps even both.

The tail end of the dilemma is that high-rises will also produce mountains of refuse and lakes of waste water. The proper treatment of such byproducts of human inhabitation should also be taken into consideration, not only for the approval of high rises and casinos but for the Kingdom as a whole.

I know of no panacea – and even if I did am in no position to administer it – but can only hope that the powers that be recognize the severity of the situation and try their best to remedy it for the benefit of all of the Kingdom’s people.

Robert Mueller
Phnom Penh

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