New Campaign Aims to Clean Phnom Penh’s Drainage System

The Phnom Penh Municipality on Saturday launched a new campaign to clean up the city’s drainage system in an effort to alleviate chronic flooding during the rainy season.

The campaign would encourage people to discard their waste correctly and would also see City Hall cleaning the city’s drainage system more regularly with new equipment provided by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

“During the rainy season over the course of about three months we will clean the drain­age system three times, which should help to reduce about 70 percent of the flood water caused by blockages. For this, we have two kinds of trucks—one that pumps the waste out and the second one which cleans the drains,” Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong said in his speech on Saturday at the project’s launch in Tuol Kok district.

Although the capital’s population is growing rapidly, properly educating people to prevent them blocking storm drains and manholes, in tandem with the refurbishment of French colonial-age pipes, could help to ease flooding, said City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche on Sunday.

“It will require both the public and the authorities working together to reduce flooding in the city. But some people still have limited understanding of the damage caused by improperly disposing of their garbage, so we want to raise awareness and get people involved by participating in the cleaning projects,” he said.

Past efforts to get citizens to clean up their act have largely failed, meaning that despite the ongoing construction of a $350-million-dollar drainage system by JICA, flooding has not be alleviated.

Nouv Saroeun, director of the drainage and sewage unit at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, said the new campaign was a holistic approach to the problem.

“It is a good campaign because it encourages people to dispose of their rubbish correctly and also calls for [municipal waste disposal company] Cintri to disseminate to proper practice to the public.”

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