A major ice maker in Vientiane is planning to dig wells because the three factories it operates are unable to obtain sufficient water, a senior executive said yesterday.
Jitchaleun Ice Factory Director Mr Sengphachanh Thammavong said that the company, which produces 25 percent of the ice sold in Vientiane, is looking at the feasibility of digging wells to obtain the water needed for ice production.
“We require about 100 cubic metres of water a day but we can get only half this amount,” he told Vientiane Times. He attributed the drop in water supply to growing urbanisation, which has resulted in higher consumption levels in the capital.
Mr Sengphachanh said that the company's three ice making plants in Vientiane are all located in areas where it would be difficult to dig wells. The management are now looking at relocating the plants closer to underground water access.
In the meantime, the company has built water storage tanks so they have enough in store.
But Mr Sengphachanh said they could not build more storage tanks to ensure larger reserves because this would affect other water users. “We can build more water tanks but we have to realise that other people need water too,” he said.
He said the ice making trade had been a good business for many years because the demand for ice in Vientiane was constantly increasing with the growing population. Peak demand occurs at Lao New Year, when the weather is at its hottest. People need large supplies of ice for drinks and to put in the water they throw over each other.
The company is planning to continue ice production over the Lao New Year next month even though it is a public holiday, so that revellers do not go short. But Mr Sengphachanh said he could not confirm that they would be able to meet the surge in demand over the holiday period.
“The shortage of ice has been a problem for many years at Lao New Year because people consume much more than usual,” he said.
Vientiane Water Supply Enterprise Director Mr Khamphey Vongsakhamphouy said yesterday that water supplies in the capital still did not meet demand despite increasing output in recent years. He said the enterprise was looking for funding from China to expand water provision to ensure the ever-growing need could be met.
The establishment of new industrial zones and burgeoning urbanisation in Vientiane are posing big challenges for the enterprise as it struggles to provide sufficient water.
The government has invited the private sector to invest in water treatment facilities to bolster the supply. But the private sector wants the government to raise the amount charged for water usage so they can be assured of a profitable investment.