Power Cuts

My digital clock and everything else was off this afternoon as the recently started daily power cuts continued. The power cuts alternate between morning and afternoon: yesterday the electricity was off for 5.5 hours in the morning and today it was off for 5.5 hours in the afternoon, returning at 5:30 PM. The government knows better than to cut power at night when everyone is at home.

The power situation has been bad throughout the almost twenty years I have been in Cambodia. It improved a bit a few years ago when power transmission lines were erected to buy power from Vietnam. But now it is the worst it has ever been. The prime minister keeps blaming climate change and lack of rain, but that’s just to avoid owning responsibility for the power shortage. After all, he has been in power for 32 years. Either he didn’t see the power problems coming, or he did see them and didn’t plan for them. Either way it reflects rather badly on his leadership.

Give me water…

All day long this man sells sugar cane chunks to chew and suck on. Sugar cane juice is a most popular natural drink that is squeezed on the streets by vendors pushing their carts. Confronted by sugar cane all day long, though, this man, when he really gets thirsty, pulls out a thermos of water from underneath his cart.

Pick a spot…

Here is a young man starting off his career with a little sewing shop set up on the sidewalk. Somewhere he got the money to build a little shed and buy a sewing machine, and then he just looks for an empty place on the sidewalk and squats–just like all the other little shops on Street 51.

Traffic Problem

Phnom Penh has a horrendous traffic problem. There isn’t enough space on the streets for all the vehicles, and this year they are registering an additional 850 vehicles every day. One of the reasons there is no space in the streets is because the streets are used for everything else. What you used to do on your farm land in the provinces, you now do on the street in front of your house.

Home…of a sort

It is the norm for construction workers in Cambodia to live on the construction site where they work. Many are workers from provinces who have left family–and homes–behind to come for off-season work in the big city. They have no place to live in Phnom Penh so they live where they work. Here a mother with a 4- or 5-year old son sits on a site where she and her husband work while her toddler son explores the sand piles and paving bricks that will become the building’s courtyard.