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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Raising a stink in Siem Reap

Garbage collected from city roads and local houses piles up next to a trash receptacle at a dump site in Siem Reap
Garbage collected from city roads and local houses piles up next to a trash receptacle at a dump site in Siem Reap this week. Thik Kaliyann

Raising a stink in Siem Reap

Piles of waste stinking up Siem Reap’s Chreav commune are causing serious health problems and making the area unlivable, according to local residents.

The site in Knar village, which is run by refuse company Global Action for Environment Awareness (GAEA), is plagued with flies and a smell that leaves nearby residents reaching for the sick bag,
locals said.

“The smell is so bad from day to day, especially in the rainy season. Sometimes my family has to eat lunch and dinner under a mosquito net,” said villager Oun Srey Mao.

“My son gets sick every week – dizziness, vomiting and diarrhea, difficulty breathing – all that happened because of the smell of rubbish”, she added.

Residents of Knar village told the Post yesterday that the issue dates back at least to the administration of former Siem Reap governor Sou Phirin, who had not managed to find a solution despite multiple requests for intervention.

Loung Khin, another Knar village resident, said their hopes now rest with current governor Khim Bunsong.

“We need a clean and healthy environment; we want to see our children look healthy,” he said.

GAEA is the only rubbish collection company in Siem Reap. It also runs the Bakong district dump, which has attracted numerous homeless Cambodians who scratch out a living in the trash.

GAEA director Pho Phallkun said yesterday that the garbage storage area in Knar village had been created in 1999 when no one lived there.

“We chose that area because before no one lived there, and I know that the smell has affected people, but I really do not know what to do, because there are only people asking us to relocate [villagers], but no one has suggested a suitable alternative,” he said.

“We did not ignore the villagers’ suggestion, but we need time to do it, to reduce the garbage smell.”

Deputy provincial governor Kim Chhay Heng said that the company had been ordered to move to another more suitable area.

“They failed; they have to relocate to another site,” he said.

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OlliMcLane's picture

Hopefully not just wishful thinking for the future of the people and the city, a concept for garbage collection, prevention and recycling would be very important!

Malcolm Jones's picture

I think it's time the refuse collection service is reviewed by the Provincial Government. I can sympathise with the residents living near the dump. It must be awful.

However, my own concern is about the standard of collection. I have a shopping bag of rubbish to be collected 5 or 6 times a month for which I am being charged $30. When the managers came to see me, they at first asked for $200, a quite rediculous amount. When I said that I would dispose of my own rubbish, they said that I had to pay, because the money financed street cleaning. (The street outside my property is swept once every 2 or 3 months. The sweepings are sometimes left in piles, which are never collected. The piles are soon redistributed across the street by passing traffic). Eventually we agreed on a collection fee of $30 per month. The problem I have is that the bag of rubbish is usually left uncollected. It can take up to 7 days before it is finally taken away.

The rubbish collection team appear to be working to a very strict time schedule, as they try to throw the refuse onto a moving truck. Bags that miss are just left on the road surface.

I really don't understand why I should be paying so much for a really awful service.