Litter Clogging Drains in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen Says

During yesterday’s inauguration of a Japan-funded multimillion-dollar drainage system built in Phnom Penh, Prime Minister Hun Sen asked city residents to stop littering and properly bag their garbage, saying that wayward trash was clogging underground pipes and causing flooding in the capital.

Both Mr Hun Sen and Japanese Ambassador Kuroki Masafumi said at the ceremony that it was up to the residents of Phnom Penh to keep the city–and the new drainage system–clean.

“I would like to call for the residents of Phnom Penh and visitors from provinces…to please put the trash in the [plastic] bag, then put it in a dustbin,” Mr Hun Sen said. “Even though we have a strong government and Council of Ministers, if there is no participation from the citizens, we cannot make it.”

Mr Hun Sen said the drainage system overhaul, which began in October 2007 and finished in February, cost about $19 million, though Japan previously said the project had a $22.6 million price tag.

“For a good, sustainable and functioning drainage system, it is important to remove the garbage from the pipeline at pumping stations,” Mr Kuroki said during the inauguration. “This is not a project for Japanese; it is a project for Cambodia, for the people of Phnom Penh.”

The project was aimed at reducing flooding from the Mekong River, minimizing pollution runoff into the Tonle Sap river and improving drainage in Phnom Penh, including areas around the Royal Palace, National Museum, Phsar Thmei Market and Wat Phnom.

The Japanese ambassador, after urging for more help from residents to curb garbage in the streets, was confident the expanded and improved drainage system would be a boon to Phnom Penh.

“I am sure that this project will continue to be an improvement to the living condition of Phnom Penh residents and for the economic and social activities of the city,” Mr Kuroki said.

Municipal officials could not be reached for comment yesterday. Seng Vy, director-general of Cintri Company, which manages the city’s waste removal, said yesterday that he was out of the country and couldn’t comment.


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