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|The temperature was recorded at 42 degrees Celsius at 4.30pm yesterday in Hanoi. VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Dat|
Tenants at bedsits around Hanoi are being hit on their electricity bills, with people like Mai Phuong, 20, from Phu Tho Province, paying from VND200,000-300,000 (US$8.8 to 13) a month for lighting and cooking, even without air conditioning.
“The landlord charges us VND4,500 ($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 Cau Giay District, where the cost of a kWh can climb to VND5,000 ($0.22).
The maximum price advertised on Vietnam Electricity’s website is VND3,600 per kWh.
In industrial zones outside Hanoi, 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 VND700,000 ($31) for a refrigrator, air conditioner and lighting. The cost is too high compared to our income,” said Thu Hà, a worker in Dai Mach Commune, Dong Anh District.
Some tenants have also said that their meters are rigged.
Nguyen Lam, 25, who rents a bedsit in Nam Tu Liem 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, Vietnam Electricity is working with provincial departments of industry and commerce to resolve inflated bills.
“Landlords can be fined from VND7 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 Hang Ngang and Hang Dao streets in the Old Quarter, which are famous for their abundant stocks of garments, have been quiet in recent days.
Hàng Da and Lương Van 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 Nguyen Thi Nga, the owner of an eatery on Lương Van Can Street.
Taxi and motorbike taxi drivers have also been hit, and the shade provided by overpasses on Belt Road have become their shelters.
Hoang Van Tho, a motorbike taxi driver, told Thanh Nien (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 Hoa, Nghe An and Ha Tinh.
To resist the inferno, many farmers of Ha Tinh Province are harvesting their crops at night.
Phan Thi Mong, 54, in Loc Ha 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 Quang Nam Province and Da Nang due to the hot weather.
According to Quang Nam’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, because of the high salinity, several pumping stations have stopped operating.
To treat the saline water, Da Nang 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.