More than seven months after a Tuol Kok clothes dyeing factory promised to cut down on pollution emissions, local residents said Thursday fumes and noise have not abated.
And although government officials acknowledged Thursday that efforts to clean up Fu Hing Garments factory have gleaned few results, it was unclear whether the government would take any strict measures with the company.
“We have to give them time to solve the problem,” said Mok Sophy, director of the pollution control department at the Environment Ministry.
Residents living next to the factory in Boeung Salang commune, just west of the Hotel Inter-Continental, said the problems began about a year ago, shortly after the factory opened.
Kith Bopha, a 45-year-old mother of five, said her children have been sick almost every day since the company moved in. Water with a strong chemical odor drains into a nearby field, she said, and the overpowering smells leave everyone with a persistent headache. She also said machine noises blast through her home constantly.
“My family can’t sleep at night because of the noise,” said Kith Bopha.
Finally, in November 1997, dozens of families living near the factory began filing complaints with the Interior Ministry.
At the time, Mok Sophy said that Fu Hing Garments had agreed to cut down on air pollution. A company representative said an agreement had been signed with the Environment Ministry to make machines more environmentally friendly.
But seven months later, residents say they have seen little change. Pol Lim, Interior Ministry complaints department director, said 80 families have filed complaints—the latest coming last week—about the Chinese-owned factory.
Fu Hing managers could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Mok Sophy said a commission comprised of officials from the ministries of Industry and Interior and the municipality was set up about six months ago to look into the problem of industrial pollution, but has not received a report on Fu Hing.
“If [residents] are still complaining, this means the factory has done nothing,” Mok Sophy said, adding that he would go today to look for himself.
Commission member Cheap Sivorn, the director of environment for Phnom Penh Municipality, said Thursday the city has asked Fu Hing to reduce noise and water pollution. Although the problem has not been resolved completely, he said, it is better than before.
But residents say they are fed up. They want the government to either close the factory or force it to move to a different location.
“We are always sick and we are tired of the smelly water,” said 26-year-old Seng Dora. “We want the factory to move away.”