The Battambang Provincial Administration has not imposed fines on those caught littering in public places as authorities want to focus on education rather than penalties, said governor Sok Lou, despite residents continuing the practice.

Lou’s remarks followed criticism of the provincial town administration for not fining those who litter in public spaces.

“The provincial administration has had an inter-ministerial proclamation on fines for littering in public places for a long time, but we have not implemented it, as we have been educating the people rather than imposing fines. We know there are still people littering in public places,” he told a press conference on the province’s five years of achievements, organised by the Royal Government Spokesperson Unit on January 24.

The governor added that the problems related to rubbish are not a small thing because Battambang town alone has about 300 tonnes of rubbish to dispose of per day, with two firms contracted to collect waste from neighbourhoods and bring to the landfill.

He said the solution to the problem requires the participation of all people by paying the cost of transporting garbage according to the tariffs set for homes and businesses, with fees ranging from 10,000 to 15,000 riel ($2.50 to $3.60).

“I don’t think the fee is too high, but the question is what percentage of people in Battambang town have paid for the transportation and garbage collection? I would like to inform you that less than 50 per cent pay this fee, which is a problem for us,” he noted.

“We have been thinking about it, but the solution cannot just be achieved overnight. Beside, rubbish is a complicated thing that needs to be tackled by all people, by paying fees and placing rubbish in designated places according to the notified schedule,” he said.

The Ministry of Environment has tried to help Battambang province by providing garbage trucks to help improve the collection and transportation of waste, while the provincial administration is also studying the development of an app to notify about collection times.

“We will have an app where we can know the time and schedule of garbage trucks, we can know the area where people do not pay the garbage collection fees, and we will encourage them to pay as needed,” he said.

Battambang has a newly built landfill on more than 20ha of land and the provincial administration will sort the garbage at the old landfill and transport it to the new site.

According to Lou, the provincial administration will conduct a joint study with a company from South Korea regarding the possible use of the landfill to produce gas to generate electricity and also its use for compost as well.

According to the environment ministry, by 2022 the amount of waste generated in Cambodia has increased to more than four million tonnes per year, with Phnom Penh alone accounting for more than 10,000 tonnes per day. The level of increase in solid waste is between 10 and 15 per cent per year.

The ministry added that out of all garbage produced, only 64 per cent was dumped in landfills while another 36 per cent was dumped in other locations like water sources or in public places.