Prime Minister Hun Sen and government officials inaugurated a new water treatment facility yesterday in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district that is expected to expand clean water access in the capital and its outskirts.
Made possible with about $90 million in funding from the Japanese government, the Niroth Water Production facility will add up to 466,000 cubic metres of treated water a day to residents, broadening the capacity of the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority.
According to Suy Sem, the Minister of Industry, Mine and Energy, approximately 1.7 million city dwellers will benefit from the increased services by the end of 2013, an increase of about 500,000 residents.
In Hun Sen’s speech, the premier said demand on the water supply is growing based on the construction of new buildings and a growth in commercial developments.
“PPWSA is the only state-owned unit that plays a role in bringing about this progress,” he said.
Armed with his own numbers, he said that since 2004, the water supply authority’s distribution pipes have helped an average of 14,000 families gain access to clean water every year.
The historical statistics tell of a rare success story. In 1993 only 20 per cent of the residents in Phnom Penh had access to a water supply system, but over the last two decades, water coverage in the city has grown to 85 per cent in 2012, according to the most recent statistics from the water authority.
There are more projects in the works outside Phnom Penh. The Japanese plan to announce today a $30 million initiative to build two water supply plants in Kampong Cham and Battambang provinces.
Japanese Ambassador Yuji Kumamaru said during the inauguration ceremony in Meanchey district yesterday that the supply plants are a joint venture between both countries.
“I sincerely hope that the cooperation projects which are successfully implemented – including the water treatment plant inaugurated today – will further strengthen the existing friendly relations between the people of Japan and the Kingdom of Cambodia,” Kumamaru said.
Not everyone attending the inauguration was singing the praises of the water authority.
Lim Hong, a 56-year-old resident from Prek Thmei commune in Meanchey district said that clean water pipes have yet to reach his village and, that fact notwithstanding, he would be unable to afford any related fees associated with connecting them.
He said that he has eight members in his family and they are all still taking water from the river or a local well.