Residents in Vietnam raise their arms to the sky and moan "Blackout!" every dry season.
It's dry, it's hot and the demand for power surges. But power suppliers have never satisfied demand as authorities never managed or bothered to estimate how much power people would need. So the blackouts have continued, as a matter of course, for at least a decade.
Nguyen Tan Thuy, a Thanh Nien reader from Quang Nam Province in the central region, where many hydropower plants have been set up, calls that the "paradox" between supply and demand.
Also, power supply in Vietnam depends too much on hydropower plants, whose dams dry out every dry season. Some hydropower plants only have enough water to operate for a couple of hours a day.
So the government allows power firms to cut power frequently every dry season. It simply refers to power shortages in the dry season as an inevitable difficulty and asks residents to show some sympathy.
Deputy minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Nam Hai once said "I have heard complaints from provinces about frequent blackouts."
But he dismissed the troubles as unavoidable "difficulties."
Hoang Thanh, another Thanh Nien reader, said the deputy sounded "detached" from residents.
Thanh said his area in the northern province of Lang Son has been disconnected from the power supply more than ten hours a day for nearly three months due to the "frequent blackout" policy, which aims to save power in the dry season.
Many rural and mountainous areas around the northern region share Thanh's plight. People live in misery. Children get sick in the heat and poor families have to spend all their money on batteries.
We keep hanging banners about industrialization and modernization. Then how come people have to eat in darkness and businesses don't have power for production?
Thanh said his shop, which lets people use the Internet for hourly fees, has been closed for nearly three months due to the "frequent blackouts."
Very few people in the rural and mountainous areas have their personal PC connected to the Internet. They would go to Internet shops when necessary.
Power suppliers operate on the state budget, including taxes paid by residents. But they didn't try to invest the money in upgrading facilities or switching to solar or wind power to supply the power residents need. They invest in other fields instead, such as telecommunications or financing, none of which has ever worked well.
"We need to destroy the monopoly system in power supply and we need to do that right away," said resident Tran Minh Duc from the northern province of Tuyen Quang.
Vietnam has so far been supplied power by the Electricity of Vietnam (EVN), which is the parent of city/provincial power firms.
Residents and National Assembly representatives have been complaining that the monopoly system enables EVN behave with impunity in any manner it likes.