If waste management firm Cintri Ltd does not remove all trash from the streets of Phnom Penh by Friday, municipal workers will start dumping the garbage in front of the company’s Sihanouk Boulevard headquarters, Municipal Governor Kep Chuktema warned Tuesday.
The governor said he was not satisfied with claims by the company that it would take until next week to clear rubbish from the city’s streets.
“Why do they need a week? They must increase the times during the day that they collect trash,” Kep Chuktema said by telephone.
“Friday we will use officers to collect [the trash] to place in front of Cintri’s office,” he said.
The company signed a 49-year contract in 2002 to collect 90 percent of the city’s garbage, but Kep Chuktema said the company is not meeting its obligation and is leaving too much uncollected garbage on the streets. He did not suggest revoking the contract.
Sum Mum, deputy director of Cintri’s waste services, said that for the past week, trucks were only able to service some routes once or twice instead of the usual three times per week. That will change now that the company has repaired trucks disabled by punctured tires and damaged by floods on the road to the Stung Meanchey dumpsite, he said.
The company also increased their fleet from 70 to 80 trucks Tuesday, he said.
“We are doing our best. We are using all trucks, including the reserve trucks,” he said. “We are gathering all workers. We are increasing our hours.”
The company is still adjusting to the arrival of the rainy season, which typically creates more garbage, he said.
Phnom Penh is now producing about 1,000 tons of rubbish a day compared to the 800 to 950 tons it creates daily during the dry season.
Kep Chuktema said the explanations are inadequate.
“Phnom Penh is not like Naples,” he said, referring to the Italian city that has received international press because of mounds of rotting trash piling up on streets as a result of dumps being full.
In September, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency said that many parts of Phnom Penh don’t have access to proper waste collection services and that disposal can be improper. A JICA representative declined to comment on the present situation Tuesday.
Mohd Nasir Hassan, an environmental engineer with the World Health Organization, said that the city’s solid waste management is not a serious problem but that it can pose risks to residents, such as rotting garbage attracting bacteria and disease-carrying animals like rats and mosquitoes.
“There are a lot areas of waste management in the city that should be improved,” he said.
But, Hassan said, solid waste problems on the street are not the problem of any one entity. Solving these issues will require more garbage pick-ups, more public trash bins, and people need to stop littering, he said.
There needs to be “more public awareness that solid waste management is the responsibility of everyone,” he said. “The whole community is responsible.”