Festival Workers Sweep Up

Municipal officials Thurs­day called security and cleanup efforts during the city’s large three-day Water Festival a success.

In particular, officials pointed to a drop in crime from last year, thanks to the deployment of more than 4,000 police.

Police arrested 29 people for pick-pocketing and sexual har­assment, said Kong Saran, the municipality’s deputy police chief. Teen-agers committed many of the offenses, included groping women in large crowds, Kong Saran said.

Kong Saran said there were no major problems, except when two US citizens were held up at gun point near the waterfront, prompting the US Embassy to issue a warning Tuesday, urging its citizens  to avoid crowds near the Royal Palace. Police blamed the robbery on unruly teen-agers.

Kong Saran admitted that traffic Tuesday and Wednesday was out of control. Thousands of festival-goers trying to leave were trapped for more than five hours Tuesday around the Monivong Bridge traffic circle.

Throughout the festival, workers swept and picked up garbage along the city’s streets. Municipal officials estimated the cleanup cost millions of riel. The city hired 28 workers to clean the streets for 3,000 riel a day, cleaners said.

“This year the garbage is not as much as last year. Mostly, the garbage is leftover sugar cane stalks and plastic bags,” said Sarong Chan, one of the workers.

Chea Sophara wanted Phnom Penh cleaned up from the festival by Thursday evening, Sarong Chan said. A municipal official added that cleanup was a priority.

“We have to rush cleaning the city and moving that trash away… before it becomes bad and affects the environment,” said Mann Chheourn, chief of Cabinet for the municipality.

One woman sweeping the street in front of the Royal Palace said she was working so hard during the celebration, she missed most of the festivities.

“I didn’t see the water festival because I am so busy,” said 36-year-old Chanthia Sin. She said she has cleaned in front of the palace for nine years but has never seen the boat races.

Sarong Chan agreed that the festival means just another working day. “Same garbage like last year, but less to clean,” she said.




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