City Hall Orders Utility Firms to Bury ‘Anarchic’ Cables

Private utility companies that run their cables along overhead lines in central Phnom Penh will now have to bury them beneath the city’s streets, and pay to do so, City Hall announced on Friday.

According to City Hall’s Facebook page, Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong met with municipal officials on Thursday to discuss the first stage of the plan to bury all electrical, Internet, telephone and television cables along five major boulevards: Norodom, Sihanouk, Mao Tse Toung, Kampuchea Krom and Russian.

A utility pole at an intersection in Phnom Penh. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
A utility pole at an intersection in Phnom Penh. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“Are you tired of seeing a mess of cables in the air along boulevards in Phnom Penh?” a post on the page asked users on Friday, blaming the current tangle of wires on poor management by local authorities.

Municipal spokesman Long Dimanche said the Chinese-owned Cambodia Fiber Optic Communication Network (CFOCN) had already been contracted to bury the cables, and that companies would have to pay CFOCN for the service.

“We have seen some companies with anarchic cables,” he said. “We are now discussing with CFOCN the pricing for companies that will be acceptable for them to afford to use the service,” he said.

Mr. Dimanche said that while utility companies would be expected to pay for the burial of their cables, City Hall might help them cover the costs if this proved unviable.

Deputy Phnom Penh governor Khuong Sreng said City Hall had already contacted utility companies to inform them of the plan.

“We will give them one month to prepare” to bury their cables, Mr. Sreng said.

He added that now that Cambodia was well past the ravages of the Khmer Rouge regime and subsequent civil war — which ended in the 1990s — City Hall officials finally had an opportunity to beautify the capital.

“In the past, we just tried to survive. But now we want Phnom Penh to be beautiful and clean,” he said.

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