Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong on Monday slammed municipal waste disposal company Cintri for its poor performance in collecting the city’s garbage after a strike by trash collectors last week once again left the streets a mess.
Cintri’s trash collectors ended their second strike of the year on Wednesday after agreeing to a $10-per-month wage increase. The strike ended just two days before Friday’s ceremony to inter the ashes of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk, forcing City Hall to mobilize its own district security guards to help clean up.
At a meeting of district governors Monday, Mr. Socheatvong condemned the company for shirking responsibility for its shortcomings and failing to honor the terms of a contract that granted it sole right to collect and dispose of Phnom Penh’s waste.
“Whenever there is a problem, this company is never responsible for it—including when their workers twice went on strike this year,” City Hall’s Facebook page quoted him as saying, adding that the company was proving unfit for the job.
This is not the first time Mr. Socheatvong has publicly slated Cintri since he took office last year, but so far his actions against the company have been limited to threats.
On Monday, City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said the governor put the blame for the city’s rubbish-clogged drains and general litter squarely at the door of Cintri. But he said they would be given another chance.
“We will review the agreement between City Hall and Cintri again if they continue to show they are not respecting the contract,” he said.
Cintri has acknowledged it is struggling to manage the city’s waste problem, but says civil unrest and Phnom Penh’s untidy residents deserve their share of the blame.
“We want the city to be clean too, but does [City Hall] understand how hard it is? Do they know that when there are demonstrations, protests and traffic jams it makes it harder for us to do our job?” Cintri’s senior manager, Seng Bunrith, said Monday.
He added that Cintri was financially stretched by workers’ pay increases and had added more waste trucks despite the monthly collection fee remaining the same.
“Rather than criticizing or blaming the company, City Hall should educate residents to dispose of their garbage in the correct way so it is easier for workers to collect,” he said.