Civilian resistance fighters targeted an electricity office in Myanmar’s capital Naypyitaw with a bomb on Saturday.
The explosion at the office in Oketarathiri Township was a warning to staff collecting payments for electricity bills by force from people who have been refusing to pay the bills as part of the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), which is protesting the junta’s February 1 coup and seeking to deny the regime revenue.
The attack follows junta warnings that anyone who has not paid their electricity bill by November 16 will have their power cut off.
A resident of Oketarathiri Township confirmed the explosion. “The bomb blast occurred at noon. I did not hear if there were any casualties,” they said.
Earlier this month, a local People’s Defense Force (PDF), Tatkon Urban Guerilla, targeted an electricity office in Naypyitaw’s Tatkon Township. Another resistance group, Phoenix PDF, claimed responsibility for Saturday’s blast, saying the attack was a warning to junta forces not to collect electricity fees by force.
Myanmar’s shadow civilian National Unity Government (NUG) has urged people to boycott paying electricity bills to cut the junta’s revenue flow.
U Tin Tun Naing, the NUG’s Minister of Finance and Investment, told The Irrawaddy that the military regime had lost about 160 billion kyats (US$89 million) since the coup thanks to people boycotting paying their electricity bills.
“If the situation continues like this, the junta will lose between 2,000-2,500 billion kyats (US$1.1-1.4 billion),” said the minister. He added that 98 per cent of Yangon households, 97 per cent of Mandalay households and 80 per cent of the rest of Myanmar households are refusing to pay electricity bills.
The minister said that, “They [the junta] are trying to scare people into paying their electricity bills and cutting some households off so that the others will pay”.
In July, Independent Economists for Myanmar (IEM), a group of anonymous experts, said that the regime’s Ministry of Electricity and Energy was collecting 100 billion kyats (about US$55 million) less per month thanks to the CDM’s boycott campaign.
Electricity bill collection rates in Yangon and Mandalay, Myanmar’s two major commercial cities, were as low as two per cent and three per cent respectively as of March, according to the IEM.
The IEM said losses in the electricity sector could represent approximately 10 per cent of all revenue for the junta.
PDFs have attacked a number of electricity offices as part of the boycott. As of July, at least nine Yangon electricity offices have been targeted, as have offices in Bago Region and Shan State.
Electricity fee collectors now have to be escorted by junta forces to avoid being attacked and killed.
You may also like these stories: