Northeastern Village Still Waiting For Electricity, 25 Years Later

A child reads by candle light in Nong Pai Yai village.

SAKON NAKHON — Residents of Nong Pai Yai village in northeastern Thailand are demanding local authorities install electricity in their village, twenty-five years after they first submitted a request.

Pom Jairew, 53, said she was among the first group of villagers who went to the District Office to apply for electricity, when her daughter was still a baby.

"Now my daughter is already 25 years old and married," Pom said. 

According to Pom and other residents of Nong Pai Yai, local electricity authorities told them to wait while their request was processed. But the electricity never arrived. 

"They told me to wait. They said it's like going to hospital, you have to wait in line" said Kawi Nampha, a 70-year-old woman who was born and raised in Nong Pai Yai. "In the end people could not endure the wait, so they contacted the District Office again, but the officials also told them to wait."

Twenty-five years later, their patience has run out. Today the villagers banded together to stage a small protest and demand officials make good on their word.

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Villagers in Nong Pai Yai village demand electricity, 12 Dec 2014.

"I'm sorry for the little kids in the village," Pom said at the protest. "They can't read books at night because there's no electric lights, they can't watch TV. They can't even own mobile phones because there's no electricity for their chargers."

She continued, "The only way we know about the outside world is to listen to the radio."

Twelve families now live in Nong Pai Yai, which is only two kilometres away from the local District Office in the northeastern province of Sakon Nakhon. Whenever the village holds weddings or funerals, villagers are forced to borrow a small generator from a nearby community, and children have to finish their homework before dark.

Prawit Suphon, 40, said he and his fellow villagers decided to contact the press this time rather than seek help again from authorities again.

"The District Chiefs would slam their fists on the table and shout at us, scolding us for not knowing the meaning of waiting in a queue," Prawit told Khaosod

According to official numbers from 2010, the situation in Nong Pai Yai is rare: 99.7% of all Thai households are said to have access to electricity.

Responding to Khaosod's request for comment, an official at the local electricity authority in Sakon Nakhon province said they could not process the villagers' complaint at the moment because their supervisor "is not in the office."

"We have a policy of providing electricity to every household in Thailand, but we must follow the procedure. We have to wait for the supervisor,” the official explained. 

 

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