Garbage Collection Fees Gather Complaints

Complaints have been mounting in recent weeks over the fluc­tu­ations and increases in trash collection fees in Phnom Penh which now vary depending on whether the garbage comes from a Cam­bo­dian, an expatriate or a business owner.

The privately-owned firm Cintri ba­ses its trash-collection prices not on the amount of garbage collected but on the type and location of households and businesses—a practice that, some custo­mers said this week, leads to arbitrary fee setting.

According to Pho Phallkunn, Cintri’s customer relations manager, Cintri receives information such as names and addresses from Electricite du Cambodge, which is­sues combined power and gar­bage-collection bills.

With that information, some 90  Cintri “informants” gather data to di­vide all households and businesses into nearly 100 different categories of garbage collection fees.

According to Cintri’s tariffs list, a Cam­bodian household on a ground floor must pay $1 per month or more depending on the street where they live. Foreigners pay $10 if they live in apartments and $20 in houses. A large bar or nightclub will be charged $100.

“The tariff structure is not based on the volume of garbage you produce—it is based on the business’ operation and the source of in­come,” Pho Phallkunn said.

“If you are running a hotel, your tariff is high because your level of income is high,” he said, adding that the current system was the only possible way to get trash-collection done.

“If I use electricity a lot, I have to pay a lot more money. But we produce little garbage, why should we pay a lot?” asked Chim Kmao, a staff member of the Chi­nese-language newspaper Com­mercial News.

A vendor at Tuol Tumpong mar­­ket, who asked not to be named, said Wednesday that Cin­tri informants had her home confused with a business.

“I’m a vendor and I don’t run a bu­­siness at home. I just sometimes store my goods at home be­cause the shop at the market is too small,” she said. “I don’t really un­derstand how Cintri just points [and decides] this home pays $10 and that home pays $20 or even more.”

After seeing the garbage bill for his law firm increase from $1 to $5, then $10 and finally $25 per month, lawyer Benson Samay wrote to Cintri, claiming that the com­pany had illegally tried to make him pay the $25 bill.

“I have never signed an agreement with Cintri or any agreement to pay $25 per month,” he wrote.

Benson Samay and Cintri eventually settled on $15 per month.

Before he sent his letter to the company, Benson Samay said that a Cintri representative had told him his electricity would be cut off if he did not pay the $25 fee.

Talking about Cintri’s practice of cutting slow payers’ electricity—a step that now requires City Hall’s approval—Pho Phallkunn said the practice is still not common.

“We have operated for nearly three years and only 825 clients have been suspended,” he said.

“It is not our business to fight with our clients but to keep the city clean.”

 

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