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Deputy Governor Ieng Aunny speaks at the first strategy formulation workshop on waste management yesterday in Phnom Penh.
Deputy Governor Ieng Aunny speaks at the first strategy formulation workshop on waste management yesterday in Phnom Penh. Kong Meta

Capital still struggling with waste

Phnom Penh deputy governor Ieng Aunny yesterday acknowledged that the capital continues to struggle with waste management despite recent decentralisation measures, laying the blame with districts’ and communes’ lack of awareness of their new responsibilities, as well as what he characterised as contractor Cintri’s ongoing failure to meet the city’s needs.

Phnom Penh began to delegate waste management duties to its districts and communes last year, Ieng said during a workshop to review Phnom Penh’s strategy for waste management, with City Hall handing responsibility for the services to the city’s final four districts in December. The delegation of services was stipulated under a 2015 sub-decree by the Ministry of Environment.

“We have decentralised it to the communes to control the waste, but we have observed that … waste management, both solid and liquid waste, remain a problem,” he said. “We have not achieved what we wanted … The waste is in the canals and along the streets.”

Aunny added that officials have observed “that the responsibilities are not clearly shared.”

Reached after the workshop, Aunny said the purpose of the delegation was for the communes to work directly with Cintri Cambodia Ltd – the waste management company in Phnom Penh – and point out issues as they see them in their communities so they can be fixed “right away”. “They can tell Cintri what exactly the problem is,” he said. “So we can call out Cintri to perform.”

But Cintri so far, “has not been effective with its work”, he said. “They still lack a lot of equipment, management and responsibility, at times.”

He also noted that the city was always searching for other companies to take over the contract, but at the same time was also trying to improve Cintri’s performance.

Cintri operations manager Ith Chanda, however, maintained yesterday that the company was not to blame for any shortcomings, pointing the finger instead at residents, whom he said did not put their trash out in time for it to be collected.

“That’s why we see the waste not being well controlled,” he said.

Additionally, he said, the company can’t pick up trash in more remote areas unless the roads are accessible. “We can’t go to the areas where the infrastructure is not there for us, because who is going to be responsible for the damage to the trucks?” he asked.

Chanda also maintained that the company had made improvements by hiring more workers and increasing the number of workers per truck. The company has a total of 2,000 workers, he added.

Claire Dufour, executive director of the NGO Nexus, said her organisation, with the support of Cambodia Climate Change Alliance, is working on the development of a solid waste management strategy for the capital. She also pointed to inadequate management services and infrastructure as principle challenges, compounded by an increasing amount of waste.

“The landfill will not be able to keep pace with the growth of daily waste in the next 15 years, unless the waste is reduced, diverted and recycled,” she wrote in an email.

Aunny said some 1,900 tonnes of trash are delivered to the capital’s dumpsite per day.

San Chey, executive director of the good governance NGO Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, suggested the city update its waste management strategy and spread the load by contracting with at least two other companies. “When it becomes competitive, there will be benefits . . . No competitiveness means no action.”

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