Firms Face Blackouts Over Unpaid Trash Bills

Electricite du Cambodge Di­rector General Tan Kim Vin said Thursday the utilities company may soon shut off the power to a number of large businesses in Phnom Penh if they keep refusing to pay their waste collection fees.

Since taking over trash pick-ups for the municipality, Cintri (Cambodia) Ltd has struggled with bill collecting, a chronic prob­lem that buried its predecessors. While some people apparently don’t mind inflicting their garbage fallout on neighbors and passers-by, few want to live or run their businesses without electricity. So Cintri, with City Hall’s ap­proval, began billing jointly with EdC. If one or the other isn’t paid, blackouts could follow.

“All members of the local business community are urged to settle their waste collection debt im­mediately. Electricity cuts will continue if noncompliance with payment regulations persists,” Cintri said in a statement last week.

But Tan Kim Vin said those cuts have yet to begin as EdC, Cintri and the municipality are trying to haggle with some of the deadbeat businesses. He said Cintri even offered to allow partial payment by Sokimex and Caltex gasoline distributors and still was snubbed.

Sok Kong, president of Soki­mex and head of the Phnom Penh Chamber of Commerce, told it differently. “We pay every month,” he said, adding that he’d had no problems with the electricity.

No one at Caltex could be reached for comment Thursday.

Cintri Operations Manager Pascal Patrice said most businesses that have refused to make payments have done so because they say they are being charged too much. He maintains that Cintri charges what it takes to provide a suitable service—about $50 for most businesses, as op­posed to the $5 asked by its predecessor.

Cintri spokeswoman Caroline Hendry said that most Phnom Penh residents have paid their bills. But quite a few businesses, who complain about service quality and costs, have not. For now talks continue, Tan Kim Vin said.

“We let the two sides discuss the matter, and if Sokimex and Caltex don’t pay the fee, EdC will cut the electricity, because we must fulfill our duties,” he said.

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