Garbage Charges To Appear on Electric Bills

Phnom Penh residents who don’t pay their trash-collection bills will soon be left in the dark, thanks to a new system that puts waste-re­moval fees on electricity invoices.

Cintri, the Canadian-owned company that is taking over mun­icipal garbage collection and street cleaning, is teaming up with Electricite du Cambodge to combine bills. “It will be a very easy system for collecting service fees,” said Pascal Patrice, operations manager for Cintri (Cambo­dia) Ltd.

Since the municipality privatized trash collection in 1994, several companies—local and international—have tried and failed to take over the operation.

The reason they all failed: None of them could collect the fees for their services. Cintri believes it has found a solution to this problem.

“I hope this system will be successful—we have used it in many other countries,” Patrice said. “If the users refuse to pay, EdC will turn off their power. If you provide a service, you have to collect a fee.”

Cintri will begin collecting trash Aug 1. The first bill will be issued at the end of August.

The rates will be the same ones set by the municipality in 1997, ranging from $0.80 to $25, de­pending on the type of establishment—homes, hotels, restaurants, businesses and offices have set rates.

The municipality has a list of more than 20 fee categories, but the city doesn’t have a list of which buildings belong to which type. For several weeks Cintri and EdC staff have been surveying the city, judging the category of each building for a computer database, Patrice said.

The EdC bill will look the same, he said, but there will be a new space, separate from the electricity charges, for trash fees.

For the last few months, Cintri has been testing methods in Prampi Makara district. Workers have perfected a system there that uses 56 trucks to collect trash from noon to 10 pm.

Asked why the trash collection wasn’t done during the late night, he said the workers were trying to get to the garbage before scavengers do, because scavengers break open bags and strew trash all over the street.

This is an obstacle, he said, especially since there are no public trash cans on Phnom Penh’s streets.

Cintri is reportedly a local subsidiary of Cintec International, based in the Canadian province of Quebec, which in March signed a contract with the municipality. Patrice said the company em­ploys 700 workers who make $40 to $100 per month.

Cintri has begun broadcasting on several local radio stations an­nouncing the change and telling people that if they are not EdC users, they will be visited by bill collectors instead.

With fees often applied arbitrarily by collection workers in the past, many expressed fears that their rates would go up now that the official system is being en­forced.

Meas Sokunthea, 18, who lives in Daun Penh district, said she’s always paid $1 per month. “I can’t pay more than $1,” she said.

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