Governor Pushes Devolution on Communes

Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema on Tuesday appealed to all commune officials in Phnom Penh to “change their attitudes,” saying that through the decentralization process the commune officials have sufficient power to develop their communes and therefore do not need to rely on the national or city government.

Speaking to more than 400 commune officials from Phnom Penh’s 76 communes at a conference at City Hall on “Commune Invest­ment,” Kep Chuktema said commune officials play an important role in curbing corruption and need to understand how to develop their communes for the future.

“Decentralization has given power directly to the commune officials to develop their area,” he said. “Commune officials have to change their attitudes and find new strategies” for development.

One of the priorities for Phnom Penh’s commune officials is ensuring that residents in their respective communes are em­ployed, since Phnom Penh residents have a multitude of bills, such as trash collection and public utilities, to pay, Kep Chuktema said.

The governor also suggested that the commune officials educate young people living in their area about the dangers of drug use and the negative effects of beer gardens.

“Commune officials must clean up all the drugs in the communes and be responsible for the safety of the people,” he said. “The commune officials have to take action against the beer gardens because they make noise at night.”

Kep Chuktema also admonished the commune officials at Tues­day’s conference for ignoring problems such as the squatters who lived at the Stung Mean­chey dump. Once their predicament became too big for the communes to handle, the chiefs called upon the city for assistance, he said.

One problem the city hopes to tackle with the help of the communes is beautification—specifically, the issue of dog excrement.

“I saw a lot of dog excrement in the [city’s] gardens because when most people exercise in the morning, they take their dogs,” Kep Chuktema said, adding that it is important to ensure that public property is respected.

The municipality and the muni­cipal Public Works and Trans­portation Department will soon start a program to catch dogs found on the street in order to reduce the amount of dog excrement at public places, he said.

The governor did not specify if the city would capture only stray dogs or all dogs found on public property, or where the city would take the dogs.


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