Hundreds of police, military police and municipal officials gathered on Thursday for the annual meeting of Phnom Penh City Hall, where promises made to improve the city’s image included an overhaul of its failing waste management system and reviewing Cintri’s exclusive right to garbage collection.
Opening and closing speeches by Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong and Interior Minister Sar Kheng, respectively, highlighted the company’s failures to fulfill its duty and said the government was being blamed for Cintri’s incompetence.
Mr. Kheng warned that the country’s reputation was at stake as visitors to the city were regularly faced with rubbish-strewn streets.
“This is a very serious environmental and sanitation problem that affects the beauty of the municipality,” he said. “It would be good if Cintri could do the job on its own but if it cannot do it, we cannot just allow garbage to remain on the streets.”
Mr. Kheng said plans to hand control of waste management to individual districts were already underway—following a decision by the Council of Ministers last week to review Phnom Penh’s contract with Cintri and look for another company to help collect the city’s trash.
The interior minister drew attention to a number of other concerns that he said should be addressed in the coming months. These included the city’s notoriously dangerous, often unusable sidewalks—which he said would be fixed or replaced—and public safety on Koh Pich island, which he said was threatened by traffic congestion that would block emergency services from reaching people if a fire broke out.
Turning his attention to crime and public safety, Mr. Kheng said he feared that the Islamic State terrorist group could pose a risk to security in the country.
“We are afraid that while they might not want to attack Cambodians, they could attack targets here instead of in their homelands, so we must have measures to prevent this,” he said.
During his opening remarks, Mr. Socheatvong reported that serious crimes in the city dropped last year. The governor said felonies were down in 2014 by about 10 percent, from 933 in 2013 to 884 last year, with drugs making up a substantial percentage of the crimes.
“We cracked down on drugs, with 208 cases and 559 people arrested as a result,” he said.