Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — The heatwave currently sweeping north and central Việt Nam is taking its toll on residents.
Tenants at bedsits around Hà Nội are being hit on their electricity bills, with people like Mai Phương, 20, from Phú Thọ Province, paying from VNĐ200,000-300,000 (US$8.8 to 13) a month for lighting and cooking, even without air conditioning.
“The landlord charges us VNĐ4,500 ($0.2) per kWh. When we complained about the high cost, he simply said if we were unable to pay, we could leave,” she told Vietnam News Agency.
The phenomenon is common among university hubs, such as Cầu Giấy District, where the cost of a kWh can climb to VNĐ5,000 ($0.22).
The maximum price advertised on Vietnam Electricity’s website is VNĐ3,600 per kWh.
In industrial zones outside Hà Nội, workers are struggling to pay their bills as the mercury rises.
“Although we work all day and only have weekends off, we still have to pay up to VNĐ700,000 ($31) for a refrigrator, air conditioner and lighting. The cost is too high compared to our income,” said Thu Hà, a worker in Đại Mạch Commune, Đông Anh District.
Some tenants have also said that their meters are rigged.
Nguyễn Lam, 25, who rents a bedsit in Nam Từ Liêm District, said that she had to pay for 165kWh at VNĐ3,500 ($0.15) last month even though she was away on a field trip.
“The meter turns even when I don’t have any appliances plugged in. The landlord challenged me to change the meter myself when I asked about the price,” she said.
Responding to the issue, Việt Nam Electricity is working with provincial departments of industry and commerce to resolve inflated bills.
“Landlords can be fined from VNĐ7 million to 10 million ($308 to 440) for overcharging for electrity,” said an ENV representative.
The heatwave has also turned local business upside down.
On Hàng Ngang and Hàng Đào streets in the Old Quarter, which are famous for their abundant stocks of garments, have been quiet in recent days.
Hàng Da and Lương Văn Can streets, the city hubs of fresh flowers and fruit, are facing the same situation.
Shop owners are covering their goods with a thick wet blanket to keep them cool under the extreme heat.
“It is getting hotter at noon. We spray water to try and cool the place down but it evaporates in minutes,” said Nguyễn Thị Ngà, the owner of an eatery on Lương Văn Can Street.
Taxi and motorbike taxi drivers have also been hit, and the shade provided by overpasses on Belt Road have become their shelters.
Hoàng Văn Thọ, a motorbike taxi driver, told Thanh Niên (Youth) newspaper that his income had dropped because noone wanted to take a motorbike at the moment.
“Even we aren’t tough enough to work in this weather,” he said.
The heat can also be felt in the central region, especially Thanh Hoá, Nghệ An and Hà Tĩnh.
To resist the inferno, many farmers of Hà Tĩnh Province are harvesting their crops at night.
Phan Thị Mong, 54, in Lộc Hà District, stays cool in the daytime and works at night instead.
“Working at night is harder but we can avoid the heatwave and protect ourselves,” she said.
Salinization has also worsened this year in Quảng Nam Province and Đà Nẵng due to the hot weather.
According to Quảng Nam’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, because of the high salinity, several pumping stations have stopped operating.
To treat the saline water, Đà Nẵng Water Company (Dawaco) has asked hydroelectricity power plants on the Vu Gia River to discharge water to reduce the salinity.
However, those reservoirs still need to retain a certain amount of water to prepare for the upcoming drought. — VNS