Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong has issued an ultimatum to Cintri, the city’s waste disposal company: Clean the streets, and keep them clean, or lose your contract.
At a meeting between Cintri, City Hall and all levels of Phnom Penh officials on Monday, Mr. Socheatvong told the stakeholders that he had to act on complaints received about the waste that littered the city.
“Regarding garbage collection, the Cintri company must clarify whether or not it can do the job properly,” Mr. Socheatvong told stakeholders. “If they can not, we have to seek a replacement.”
Mr. Socheatvong said that the company was investing too much time and effort in expanding its operation and not enough on doing its job effectively in the city center, but gave no timeframe in which Cintri must improve its work.
“It is not important that they expand the zone that they manage, but it is important that they implement the work set out in their contract,” he said. “There are criticisms from the people that Cintri can not collect garbage on time and only collects money.”
When contacted Tuesday, Cintri deputy director Seng Chamroeun said that City Hall was right to be dissatisfied with the state of Phnom Penh but argued that his resources had been stretched to breaking point in recent months, with election campaigns and the ensuing demonstrations leaving his staff chasing their tails.
“I understand City Hall’s complaint but we need to service 2 million people in Phnom Penh,” Mr. Chamroeun said.
“During the demonstrations there were road blocks, which made collecting trash difficult, and also so many more people in the city, which makes so much more trash.”
Mr. Chamroeun said that the expanding population of the city—from about 1.2 million in 2000 to about 2.2 million today—was too much for his staff to keep up with.
“Ten years ago, [when we signed the contract,] we would collect the trash from the same place once every day,” he said. “Now, sometimes we need to collect four or five times in one day and that is excessive.”
Cintri in 2002 signed a 50-year contract that made it solely responsible for collecting and disposing of Phnom Penh’s waste. Neither City Hall nor Cintri would share details of the contract Tuesday, but both parties said they were committed to honoring it.
City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said Tuesday that the contract between Cintri and City Hall needed to be reviewed but that it was not yet at risk of being torn up.
“As is normal in business, if a party who signed a contract does not respect that contract, it absolutely must be reviewed,” he said.
“But we would prefer to try and work through this problem together,” he added before ending the conversation and declining to make further comment.